Why the student voice matters in today’s digital world
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Why the student voice matters in today’s digital world

COVID-19 has changed not only how higher education is delivered but the experiential nature of study. It’s time providers fundamentally rethink the role of the student experience to remain viable in the face of intensifying competition.
The tech-savvy generations live with and through technology. “Instant is expected”, according to Jamieson (2018). The culture of accessing ‘real time’ information has prompted speedier services and higher expectations amid an exceedingly competitive service-focused sector.

Having a voice – and being heard 
The student experience in higher education undeniably includes all aspects of a student’s academic journey – incorporating not just the actual academic study, but also the social interactions on and off campus.
Positive student experiences are ones where students are able to voice their concerns and communicate their needs. More importantly, positive student experiences are ones where institutions actively listen to these voices and act (where possible) on these concerns. 

Student feedback 
Higher education institutions (HEIs) must ensure their students stay engaged with the institution and facilitate this engagement through a range of mechanisms: among them surveys, forums, and other review options. Student feedback should be used to drive awareness. Actions and change should become heavily reliant on these to provide real time attention.

Unique challenge and opportunity 
What sets higher education apart from other industries reliant on service is the length of the ‘transaction’. Students study at institutions for an average of two to three years, a much longer period of time compared to purchasing a product in a store or enjoying a meal at a restaurant.

HEIs, therefore, must not only provide a positive experience but sustain it for the duration of the student’s journey – challenging to accomplish, but not impossible.
Student dissatisfaction both damaging and costly Student satisfaction also directly impacts student outcomes: a factor particularly poignant since the start of the pandemic. COVID-19 has steered institutions into an educational revolution, with an increased reliance on a model predicated on a combination of face-to-face service and digital communication. Livestreaming from campus has become the new academic experience and is likely here to stay.

While this move to online classes and online exams was almost immediate, sufficient attention to the student experience was, sadly, not prioritised by many institutions. This is evident in the QILT data for 2020, which clearly highlights how much Australian universities, in particular, have missed the mark in this crucial area. Now, more than ever, there is pressure on HEIs to cease treating students as simply ‘numbers’ and acknowledge them as customers. The pandemic has crystallised that the way to keep a student happy is to understand their circumstances in an evolving world and cater to them.

Assistant Professor Jotsana Roopram is currently the Deputy Dean (Student Experience) at UBSS

Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor, GCA

 

The full article can be viewed at - https://www.campusreview.com.au/2021/07/why-the-student-voice-matters-in-todays-digital-world-opinion/