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Top 3 priorities for higher education & why student centricity is essential

February 19, 2021


Traditionally, universities have always relied on a teacher-centric based view. However, with the growth of online schooling, forward-thinking institutions are beginning to shift their approach towards a student-centric model, aiming to enhance training, choice, and the learning experience overall. 

But what is “student-centricity” and why is it important in 2021?

According to Ovum’s study,

                           “Student centricity goes well beyond simply having a strong student focus; it fundamentally redefines the “contract” with the student, moving from a promise to deliver a high-quality course experience and related services, to an agreement to plan and deliver a personalized individual learning journey closely aligned to the student’s personal goals.”

What are the challenges universities face today, and what are the benefits of a student-centric modern approach to learning? This article explores all these and more.

A complex challenge

To transform their ways of engaging with students and delivering information, higher education institutions will need to realign their old legacy systems and reimagine themselves. However, replacing outdated systems can be costly and can bring disruption. Universities will need to find an efficient and optimal mix of initiatives to get to a student-centric approach.

Part of the challenge is created by the growing and changing expectations of students, as a new generation of digital-savvy students is entering the higher education system. Luckily, new technology allows universities to innovate, but many institutions are still blocked by old legacy systems.

To survive all disruptions and remain competitive in the educational field, universities need to consider all the internal and external factors that can represent issues and challenges and at the same time, find their path to digital transformation.

Nowadays, some technologies can help universities address these challenges and become student-centric. 

Students’ Expectations

According to the American Priorities for Higher Education Study, 42% of Americans believe the quality of the college or university experience will be worse than it was before the coronavirus epidemic. 

Nevertheless, modern students have high expectations, and institutions need to adopt strategies and approaches to serve them. During the pandemic, progress in schools can be uncertain, but students’ decision-making on higher education is more informed than ever. Young people are looking for certainty about what institutions can offer them, from employability to learning experiences.

Their challenges also include retention rates and equity gaps. What does it take to achieve that? How will universities be reevaluating their curriculum and support students’ needs?

We looked at the top three priorities for higher education in 2021, as students are seeking advanced services and there is more to the selection process than it was before. These are universal to higher education institutions across all industries.

Top 3 priorities for higher education

Better technology

Universities are slowly making changes in their relationship with students, looking for a more comprehensive platform to address academic, administrative, and support needs. And most often, they implement CRM software, while also having a separate learning management system (LMS) or a student information system (SIS). However, to achieve student centricity, institutions need more than just outdated management systems. They need to be open to innovation that can sustain personalized interaction during the student lifecycle.

Thinking beyond CRM and welcoming technology that helps offer total support and drive success will be important for universities that want to stay competitive. This means investing in integrated solutions that enable sharing insights and information to achieve a 360-degree understanding and view of the student.

Better quality

In the past 20 years, the number of master’s degrees conferred by universities has increased by 73 percent. So, it’s no surprise that students take quality education into account when they choose an institution. The modern student expects program accreditation, research, and development opportunities. However, a recent study shows that more than half of business and law graduates believe that the university did not prepare them well enough to meet their career goals.

It is crucial for institutions to assess their program quality, as this is a key factor in student loyalty and their ROI. Relevant education equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to develop their careers. But to address quality, there also needs to be a shift in ranking universities. This is important because usually, the rankings favor research-intensive institutions, leaving the actual quality of teaching and experience aside.

Better finances

When choosing a university, one of the most important considerations for students is finances. And this comes as no surprise since the average cost to attend a higher education institution has tripled in the past thirty years. Most students need to get private or federal loans that will help them cover their expenses. In 2019, the average student loan balance per borrower was $35,359.

It’s the perfect time for universities to prioritize financial aid packages and work/study programs, to help students pay for their tuition. In 2018, students that have graduated from universities owed three times more money than undergraduates.

Today’s students are looking for programs that qualify them to meet career goals and pay off their debt.


With more than 14 million students enrolling in higher education each year, universities have a real challenge to overcome if they want to transform themselves, and it starts with putting students at the center. Forward-thinking institutions can leverage partnerships and prepare to achieve student centricity by making an effort toward better technology, better quality, and better finance