Termed “The biggest peacetime political crisis in decades,” it can’t be denied that the past three years in British politics have been amongst it’s most volatile and uncertain, impacting everything from currency exchange rates to the consumption of cheese. Tuition fee rows, Theresa May’s Government’s Augaur Review, key Minister resignations, a leadership race and Brexit have all had their part to play in the changing climate of the country, and their impact on UK Higher Education institutions can likewise not be ignored. Both the need for, and the challenge of, University performance have arguably never been greater. And yet, staff and officials are left fluttering like sparrows trying to navigate their way through a hurricane. Maintaining stability within Universities feels all but impossible.
But are we as helpless as we feel? How can we continue to put our best foot forward? How can we use the power we do have to ensure the University experience (and the students we build it for) don’t get lost in the storm?
Providing value for money
With rows over the tuition fee cap, and hidden course costs becoming an increasingly contentious issue in student circles, it has never been more imperative that Universities provide true value for money. As students are becoming ever increasingly disillusioned with the University experience as a whole, it is vital that the hard work and resources available no longer go unnoticed.
Driving efficiency, now more than ever, should be at the heart of development strategies; increasingly, Universities are working smarter, collaborating with outside organisations in order to provide the best experience for students, at the greatest financial advantage for all. Existing schemes take up considerable time, effort and resources. And yet student engagement with these schemes is comparatively low.
At Tyfy, we bridge the gap between the student and the University, bringing staff’s efforts into the student body’s awareness. By taking peer mentoring online, we make your existing schemes run smoother. More than this, we take the opportunity to direct students back to the other fantastic services they should be taking advantage of. Match- making, taken care of. Welfare and quality monitoring, streamlined. Student attention, captured. And held. Driving efficiency means making the process easier for staff and students alike. Maintaining stability within Universities relies on it.
Perhaps even more significant is the need to ensure University schemes are applicable to 21st century life. Student engagement is the key to strategic success and, without it, schemes are ultimately a waste. Both of University efforts and stakeholder’s money. In order to ensure students are engaged with their schemes, Universities need to make sure they’re communicating with students in a way they understand.
It just isn’t reasonable to expect the generation who express emotion through emoticons, check their bank balance using their thumbprint and find love by swiping right on an app to engage with face to face contact in the same way that they would have done twenty years ago. As a result, University peer mentoring schemes are no longer having the desired impact. Student engagement, retention and, critically, satisfaction are suffering; not because staff aren’t trying their best, but because they’re just not communicating with students in the way that they’re used to. As a result, University support goes ignored, and students sit in silence.
Taking the peer mentoring process online secures the engagement Universities so desperately need. Not just with mentoring schemes, but with the Higher Education experience as a whole. Once student attention is captured, it can be utilised to demonstrate the value of everything else Universities have to offer, from careers support to well being services. This is the key to ensuring students feel supported and safe.
Listening to students
The most obvious, and yet perhaps the most often foregone. Listening to students is the best way of ensuring you’re stepping in the right direction. Maintaining stability within Universities comes down to staying connected with those at their core. Whether it be on issues of inclusivity, student mental health or graduate employment, those experiencing it really are best placed to tell you what’s going right or wrong. Listen to them.
Ultimately, amidst times of such uncertainty it’s easy to feel like nothing you’re doing makes a difference. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Maintaining stability within Universities means remembering the control you do have, and using it to make a difference.
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