How To Drive Competitive Advantage for Higher Education Institutions in the Face of COVID-19

March 4, 2021
JASON M. DIXON
How To Drive Competitive Advantage for Higher Education Institutions in the Face of COVID-19

Higher education institutions in Australia and New Zealand have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Student enrollments have drastically declined, and revenue loss is now in the billions. COVID-19 has shifted the appeal of studying on-campus to a flexible, virtual learning experience.

In light of this reality, how will universities return strong to a post-pandemic world, and maintain their competitive advantage? There is a lot at stake, and it is a do-or-die question that must be addressed to guarantee the future of the higher education industry.

A New Playing Field

With location and campus culture removed as key differentiators, students can now tap into a wider selection of universities, including schools outside of Australia and New Zealand. This rings alarm bells for ANZ universities, as they are not only challenged by domestic competition but also by the behemoth of a global university market.

If the key lesson from the onset of the pandemic was the acceleration to online learning, the post-pandemic reality signals universities to focus their efforts on providing a superior digital student experience. As students are exposed to more study options across borders, gaining a competitive edge over other higher education institutions will come down to how seamless, personalized, and accessible their online learning experience will be.

IT Ecosystem Under a Microscope

With record revenue shortfalls and tightened budgets, now is the time for universities to scrutinize every system and strategic partnership they have. Universities must double down on whether their current investments are driving efficiencies, removing complexities, and ultimately, contributing to building an agile, flexible IT ecosystem.

In addition to these drivers, siloed data remains a challenge for many universities. Hundreds of different systems, applications, and databases being used to collect student data across a variety of departments and functions result in conflicting and duplicated information, not to mention the manual work that this creates across multiple endpoints.

The need to assess the viability of the existing IT infrastructure, remove data silos, and unify data has never been more critical. It is simply a must to enable universities to offer the more connected and intuitive student experience that is expected in the post-pandemic world.

Disjointed IT Ecosystem, Disjointed Student Experience

Competition on a global stage raises the need for personalization. That appealing to students on a personal level requires comprehensive knowledge of their needs and expectations. The question is, do Australian and New Zealand universities have this capability? Without unifying data across all applications and infrastructure, universities will lag behind institutions that are now on their way to achieving that 360-degree view of their students and creating personalized onboarding journeys.

Without this single source of truth, universities will also struggle to continuously learn about their students in order to meet and anticipate their needs. The ability for universities to support students’ learning and well-being in real time will play a key factor for students choosing a school.

Providing Superior Support for Students

In today’s environment, digital transformations in the higher education sector are geared towards saving time internally — but these transformations are also a matter of survival for universities. Universities that embrace this outlook and swiftly invest in building a 360-degree view of students will come out stronger in every measure, including in terms of scalability and competitive advantage.

While the road to unifying the entire digital ecosystem may seem like a daunting one, a low-code platform like the Boomi AtomSphere Platform can integrate diverse applications and data, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional or custom-coded middleware.

On top of this, universities can unlock data previously siloed in legacy applications to help form a more comprehensive view of their students. Increased capabilities for universities to track students’ progress in academia, well-being or extra-curricular activities mean they can support their students’ needs more accurately and responsively.

Universities can also benefit from Boomi’s powerful Master Data Hub, which performs automatic data management to ensure they always have access to clean, accurate, and complete data to inform their decision-making.

The AtomSphere Platform will ensure universities are best positioned to provide a seamless and collaborative digital experience across the entire student journey, and maintain competitive advantage in a global market.

Find out how higher education institutions in Australia and New Zealand are leveraging IT innovation to provide a seamless student experience. Watch the "Reimagining the Digital Campus" webinar.

About the Author

Jason M. Dixon is Boomi's director, NSW state, local, and higher education (SLED).