Today’s higher education institutions have a new focus: student success.While institutions have always desired to see their students succeed, the Obama administration set a new precedence with its goal for America to “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” By making college more accessible, affordable and attainable, student enrollment numbers have steadily increased.
Enrolling as many students as possible, however, is no longer the mission. Instead, colleges and universities are concentrating their efforts on graduating those students. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 52.9 percent of students who enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities in the fall of 2009 graduated within six years, a 2.1 percent decline from 2008.
With the rise in enrollment comes an increase in financial aid applications. The U.S. Department of Education suggests institutions tie financial aid to college performance and published college ratings. Further, accrediting agencies are requiring greater accountability around student outcomes and even states are basing their funding on factors such as time-to-degree and course completion.
When combined with Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, it’s no surprise that the spotlight is now on retention, persistence and graduation. Institutions are under significant pressure to find effective solutions to support students in their educational journey and promote the best outcomes.
Students are also demanding more from their educators. They are highly mobile, highly social and expect instant gratification. They complete most tasks from their mobile devices and believe delays in service are archaic. Institutions are realizing that student success must be supported both academically and socially, and these must be enabled through modern technology. Optimizing the student experience is the key driver to engage students. Engaged students are more likely to succeed.
When a student enrolls in a college or university, they provide the institution with copious amounts of data. Being raised with technology, they are comfortable sharing their data and expect that data can and will be used to improve their academic experience. In their minds, there is no reason why their student data can’t be integrated with smartphone apps so they can track their progress towards graduation, choose the right courses that fit their major and are eligible for financial aid, and find relevant social groups.
Institutions have an opportunity to transform the college experience and equip students with the tools and resources they need to achieve the best outcomes.
To ensure the greatest outcomes, institutions are trying to understand what it is that prevents students from succeeding. Recognizing when students are at risk, when to intervene and how best to intervene isn’t always easy. Every student is different and their educational path varies widely. Risk factors may include poor grades, unpaid tuition or financial aid payments, repeated non-attendance, or lack of campus involvement.
Tracking these and other metrics takes data, predictive analytics, algorithms and a host of required systems. A Student Information System (SIS), a Learning Management System (LMS), early alert systems and advising systems are just a few of the core technologies. Many times, these systems are unintegrated and cannot aggregate the data into a single student profile.
IT becomes a critical stakeholder to integrate these systems as best as possible to provide administrators, advisors, instructors and students access to valuable data that directly impacts student success. According to a recent article from EDUCAUSE, “IT professionals must understand the data flows across different systems in this [common] model to use technology to streamline the collection, processing, and dissemination of information supporting student success.”
Using these tools, institutions can do a better job at identifying at-risk students and measuring the success of intervention programs.
In order to truly impact the student experience, institutions have invested significant money into these systems. The SIS, in particular, enables them to consolidate multiple legacy student information systems into a single, modern, integrated software solution. The SIS houses all of the student’s information, such as admissions, financial aid, enrollment, registration, course management, billing and payment, advising, and records.
Higher education institutions around the world have readily adopted Oracle’s PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to modernize their student information systems (SIS) in the highly-dynamic global environment. Recruiting, enrolling and managing the flow of students throughout their educational journey demands innovation. Legacy systems can no longer keep up and new technology brings efficiencies, scalability and a better experience for both the institutions and the students they serve.
The PeopleSoft Campus Solution aims to give institutions the foundation they need to keep pace with the rapidly changing student ecosystem. It includes:
It is flexible enough to afford integrations with specific software that bring new functionality based on customer requirements and student demand. One major driver is the cultural shift towards mobility. Today’s higher education students are more diverse than ever, crossing every socioeconomic and demographic boundary. One thing they all have in common, however, is their prolific use of mobile devices.
PeopleSoft Campus Solutions integrates various systems that campuses use to manage the “business” of education. These include learning management, library, fund-raising, recruiting, human resources, financial systems, research grants, and much more. While these integrations are highly beneficial, their functionalities have resided in the PeopleSoft Campus Solution, not easily accessed by students or faculty. Enabling students, faculty, alumnae and even the parents of students to access and obtain records, enroll, manage financial aid, communicate and quickly find information is becoming a top priority.
With a more mobile ecosystem, higher education institutions are recognizing the need to put this functionality into the hands of its users and are embracing supporting technology to extend the PeopleSoft capabilities. Students and faculty are on their mobile phones a large portion of the day and are intimately familiar with using it and all of the apps that can come with them. A logical next step for institutions is to leverage this mobile technology to better engage and empower its students and staff.
Encouraging users to become more self-sufficient and giving them the tools to do so has distinct advantages. It offloads much of the administrative burden to users who are ready and willing to manage their own journey. In doing so, administrative costs are reduced, efficiencies are gained, and productivity increases. Students, faculty and other users can perform more tasks on their own, directly from their mobile devices.
The types of tasks that can be performed will vary depending on the software provider. The idea is to give students a comprehensive mobile solution that travels with them, both physically and virtually along their entire educational journey. Having mobile access to all of the information they need to successfully manage their academic path gives them the greatest opportunity for the best outcomes.
Some of the most helpful features for all users are campus maps, course catalog, class search, and a directory. Students can use their mobile apps to enroll in and make changes to classes, check grades, view exam schedules, purchase course materials and apply for graduation. Many of the tasks that traditionally required students to stand in line are automated through the app, including financial aid management. Much of the data that resides in PeopleSoft is available in real time to users, making it a much more efficient route.
For institutions, the enabling software must integrate seamlessly with PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and other third-party systems such as campus bookstores and payment providers. Ideally, it should reside within PeopleSoft in order to ensure the smoothest transfer or data without interruption or delays. This is critical in that much of the success of the software is dependent on how quickly the data is transferred from PeopleSoft to the app so users have the best experience. The easier the mobile app is to use, the more readily it will be adopted.
Institutions who offer this level of mobility find their student population is not only happier and more self-sufficient, but the capability has become a recruiting tool. Student expectations have evolved with technology. They expect the colleges and universities they attend will not only teach them what they need to know before they enter the workforce, but equip them with the modern tools they need to succeed. Those institutions who understand the value of using emerging technology and embrace innovation gain a competitive edge.