Since the current academic year (2017-2018), Utrecht University has completely switched to a digital student card. Students no longer receive the old plasticised student card but now find the college card in the MyUU app. We spoke to Marieke de Bakker, Head of Student Counselling at Utrecht University, about the MyUU app and the decision to go for the digital student card.
A sustainable and innovative solution
Utrecht University has a number of ambitions, one of which is sustainability. The university strives to be completely CO2 neutral by 2030. Choosing a digital student card fits well with this endeavour. "To be CO2 neutral, you must also give a good example in the business processes. We wanted to say goodbye to the plasticised student card and now annually save on 30,000 cards. "
In addition to sustainability, Utrecht University sees the digital college card also as an innovative and practical solution. "We see this as the technology of the future, you can do more and more with your mobile phone. A student always has his/her phone on him/her and then it’s extremely practical that you always have access to your student card."
But do I get a discount?
Utrecht University is the first university in the Netherlands to use a fully digital student card. A source of great pride for the university and its students.
For students, the biggest concern seems to be the abilityto get discounts. In the Netherlands, this will not cause many problems, as Utrecht University has informed major parties such as Royal Hospitality Netherlands and Knaek. The university and the students will have to wait to see how institutions abroad will respond to the digital card. "Internationally, we cannot control the response of other parties, as we cannot inform all hotspots abroad one by one. So it’s quite exciting to see how they will respond." Nevertheless, students do not have to worry about showing their card abroad, as the university has taken a number of precautions. There is a statement about the digital card on the university’s site that students can show, students can show their proof of registration or apply for an ISIC student card.
For the university it was especially important to inform everyone about the new student card so that it does not cause any problems later in the year. Both parties inside the university and third parties had to be informed. These parties all responded really positive to the innovation. Utrecht University is particularly acclaimed for its bold but innovative choice to be the first university to switch to the digital student card and other educational institutions are very curious about the results.
Communication for students
Utrecht University’s students have been extensively prepared for the coming of the digital student card. "All students received a message about the digital student card when confirming their (re-) enrolment. The faculties have informed students, but also teachers, through various means that the card is no longer necessary for examinations. In addition, a social media campaign has also been launched, which was picked up well." Yet, not all students were immediately excited about the idea, but de Bakker claims that they were not surprised by this or viewed it as a setback. Every innovation takes time to bed in and this also applies to the digital college card.
De Bakker believes that the digital college card currently offers students what to offer; a proof of enrollment. She therefore thinks there is no need to expand the possibilities of the card. Nevertheless, De Bakker thinks that it may be interesting to look into other areas digitalization is possible. "It's interesting to see if other cards, such as a library pass or a card for the sporting facilities, can also be digitized. Making the ease of use for the student even greater by allowing them to not have to show or make their cards in different ways.”
An app that meets the students’ needs
In recent years, Utrecht University has heavily invested in various tools to improve and facilitate the provision of information to students, and the MyUU app closely matches this. "We see the MyUU app as a very meaningful and welcome addition in the available tools to easily provide students with information. The app is especially useful to show "snack information", information that students can quickly check on their phone, such as timetables, grades, or their student card."
Not only the university but also the students are happy with the MyUU app. In May, a survey was launched among students, which showed that the app received a score of 7.6 out of 10. According to De Bakker, a great score that shows that the app provides the students in their needs. "The app is really well received and truly embraced by our students. We would not want to go without the app anymore."
Marieke de Bakker, Utrecht University