Connected Students

Why a connected campus is key to attracting new students

The competition for student enrolments has never been stronger. The campuses that adapt to changing needs and embrace digital transformation will win the battle for student enrolments and create a connected campus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries to rethink, innovate and find new ways to compete – and education is no exception.

As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review highlighted, the higher education sector has been ‘pummelled’ by the COVID-19 pandemic and is at a critical turning point. The pandemic pushed universities online out of necessity, but with more and more students turning towards online options for lower costs and a more flexible education, the fight for revenue in a saturated environment has never been fiercer.

Students, educators and governments alike have been forced to scrutinize the price and value proposition of higher education through the new lens of traditional classroom versus digital delivery. And while online schools are offering tailored education solutions that break the traditional mold many traditional campuses are struggling to adapt.

With less students and faculty, reduced campus budgets and fewer events, campuses have become disconnected and uncompetitive because they are not delivering what students want.

In this new world order, it is the schools that acknowledge they need to reinvent themselves – not just in the classroom but as a whole-of-campus experience – that will be well-placed to dominate their rivals.

Students want to feel connected

If there’s another thing the pandemic has reminded us of it’s that without connection, we’re lost. It’s what makes us human.

Ironically, this means that just as universities move more online, the immediate challenge is winning over students who are craving human contact after spending months learning in their bedrooms.

“The difficulty for universities is that students are very keen for the face-to-face stuff to come back. You can only push technology so far. What really matters for students is human beings and having a sense of belonging. If it’s all online you just don’t get that,” said Nick Hillman, Director of the UK-based Higher Education Policy Institute thinktank in an interview with the The Guardian.

In this context, education is not just about how lectures are delivered. Students also come to university for more than learning alone. Social contact is a vital part of the university experience and students want to connect with other students. They also want to feel connected to where they are studying.

The overwhelming feedback is that students expect a hybrid online and on-campus model and want the full campus experience with plenty of face-to-face interaction. And parents want their children to attend clean, safe, modern schools that put students first.​

It’s about getting the balance right – and this highlights the critical role of technology and digital initiatives in enhancing the student experience and re-creating campuses as the hub of university life.

So, the question is how can universities most effectively use their campus to connect students to what they love?

Student navigation

First impressions count

When it comes to attracting new students, you only get one chance to make a great first impression – the campus tour. PAM’s technology is helping higher education institutions, manage every student touchpoint from their very first encounter.

University campuses tend to be large, spread out and incredibly complex places. So, while things like mobile maps are important, they are just one element of a great on-campus experience.

As PAM Founder and CEO, Stephen Minning, says “Traditional Signage goes some of the way to helping people find their way around, but we’re really looking towards digital technologies – including mobile devices, screens and digital touch points such as wayfinding kiosks to greatly improve the experience to a point where people really feel comfortable and in control. By connecting the physical environmental to all these touchpoints, PAM connects students, faculty and visitors to what they love about university life.”

Creating a connected campus

Working with clients like the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), PAM is removing barriers to create connected experiences, with powerful options for any sized campus.

The benefits of some of the on-campus technologies and benefits we’ve introduced include:

  • Interactive kiosks that help take students to where they want to be. Interactive maps show students how to find their way to classes, events and retail outlets on campus – and then connect that information to their smart phone via a dynamic QR code.
  • Mobile navigation in the hands of students. With mobile navigation on their phone, students can easily use it to find destinations on campus, show accessible routes and even make retail purchases or book tickets to events. Accessibility features such as multilingual search and text-to-voice translations, also take the hassle out of navigating campus without having to find and download an app.
  • Instant control over directional signage. Digital signage helps students, faculty and visitors find the best routes to parking and destinations without having to refer to notices or their phones – even within the campus boundaries, which may not covered by Google maps. Using dynamic, digital directional signage in tandem with 3D mapping also allows facilities teams to plan for construction and maintenance works and communicate changes to students and faculty in real time.
  • Empowered marketing teams. With digital wayfinding and signage, last-minute changes can be accommodated and expensive processes like printing replaced with more cost-efficient and planet-friendly ones. Marketing teams can use the same digital navigation networks to promote campus events, engage students and stretch their marketing budgets further – creating the ultimate connected campus experience.

To find out more about how to future-proof your campus, click here.

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