The Digital Student Summit
We held our first Digital Student Summit on the 16th of November in Utrecht, and were delighted to introduce a range of speakers from both the UK and the Netherlands. The day was a huge success, as seen in the high energy and probing questions at the after-summit networking event. Many thanks again to our speakers and attendees for creating a thoroughly inspiring and informative afternoon.
Our first speaker was Paul Govey from Manchester University who is Head of Student Communication and Marketing. He came to share the two-year ‘Student Lifecycle Project' that Manchester is in the early stages of developing. He gave a nod to his hosts by beginning with, “Some of the issues StuComm are focusing on are key areas for many of us going forward.”
The project aims to support students from the first point of contact through to graduation; prospective student to alumni. They are moving into a more digital, personalised and communicative age that focuses on agility and efficiency.
He spoke about web portals and their inflexibility: “They aren’t good enough - they do nothing other than broadcast.” Manchester University aims to personalise in order to better communicate and engage its students: “The aim is to get through to them.”
The million pound investment that Manchester is making is expected to yield returns by streamlining processes and saving on staff resources. It will also fulfill the “simple wishes” of students. Manchester is using six headings to structure the development of the Student Lifecycle Project: Personalised, connected, reliable, accessible to all, simple to use and forward-looking.
The collaboration between business and IT in these kinds of projects is of great importance, according to Govey. By linking knowledge, the right decisions are made, which is beneficial for everyone in the long term. "It is a scary process to replace all your systems, but in the end it hopefully pays off for the students, staff, and university".
Presentation Paul Govey
Inholland University of Applied Sciences
Next up was Marcel Nollen, board member of Inholland University of Applied Sciences, about how the MyInholland app helps to recover from the reputational damage that they incurred several years ago. With declining registrations and student satisfaction, Inholland wanted to reverse this process through innovation, while also modernizing student communication.
Inholland thought that an app would be a good tool to use for their communication. It is a modern channel that offers students information in a fast and personalised way. When they discovered StuComm, Inholland was impressed by StuComm's understanding of students. Soon the decision came to work with StuComm, which resulted in the MyInholland app.
With 10,000 downloads in the first month and 87% of the students using the app within the first year, the MyInholland app surpassed the goals that Inholland had set for itself. The app also ensured that the student satisfaction increased by 0.2 point, instead of the 0.1 target.
Presentation Marcel Nollen
Third onstage was the founder of Magnet.me, Vincent Karremans, who gave an eye-opening talk about graduate recruitment. His company makes the job-finding process much more personal, streamlined and effective, and after dominating the Dutch market are now the biggest graduate job site in the UK: “1 in 4 graduates leave their first job within 12 months, and research proves this can have a hugely negative effect across their entire career."
Presentation Vincent Karremans
Higher Education Academy
Our final speaker was Hugh Mannerings from the Higher Education Academy who discussed institutional strategies to enhance student engagement. Whilst the UK has some of the lowest drop out rates in the world at just 7.4%, the HEA still thinks this number can be better: “Research has shown that university drop outs don’t do as well as those students who stay on. It is the moral obligation of universities to ensure all students can succeed."
He went on to say that the “teaching space is fraught for academics” because they need to know they are delivering good teaching which engages the students: “You’ve got to know your students, and academics must recognise that the student experience is digital now.”
The Higher Education Academy proposes strategic, programme and individual levels to increase student engagement. One of the things he touched on was institutions aiding students to create social capital: “Universities should help students grow their networks.”
Presentation Hugh Mannerings
It was a pleasure for StuComm to host leaders of the digital student movement and act as a platform for introductions. The speakers acted as a wealth of knowledge which everyone drew on, and continued to analyse later in our networking event.
Today’s student is digital, and today’s technologies must keep up with them. It is of the utmost importance to speak to those investing their time and energy in the student experience, and to become a part of the solution to enhance the student experience and university communication.