The benefit of data-driven communication for universities and students

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Data-based communication between students and college administrators is the key to improving the student experience and securing donations from graduates, according to a study.

Photo: Bigstock

It is necessary to have a more personalized communication between students and institutions to improve the students' experience and their participation in the alumni community, according to a report from Ellucian. The research integrates 300 administrators, 500 university students, and 502 alumni and highlights the benefits that good communication can have for all. Having a good relationship improves the quality of student life and creates loyalty with the institution, which motivates them to donate in the future.

Even to enroll in a particular university, 87% of respondents said good communication it is a decisive factor. While 48% admit that they did not apply to a specific school due to poor communication during the process. Therefore, institutions should pay more attention to how they use the information that applicants provide them to improve their process. For example, 58% of the students shared their interest in applying for scholarships or loans, but only 33% of the institutions saw related material in their recruitment.

First-year students usually seek support and orientation, but they do not always find that support. 70% of students surveyed had to submit their information three or more times in their first year to get help. In 54% of the cases, they seek advice on programs in their majors and 51% on housing issues.

Regarding communication with their alma mater, 89% of former students would do so if universities include the activities or groups in which they were part of during their student days. Of those, 13% would donate if there was more personalized communication between them and the institution.

Of the 19% of students who donate, 44% do so because they received personalized information since they graduated and knew where their money was going. Also, 85% would give money more often if they knew they were going to organizations or institutions known to them from when they were students.

Although administrators are aware of the importance of good communication, and 61% use programs to support students; sometimes efforts are not enough. Part of the problem is they do not have the time to evaluate the tools or training to do so. Even 87% of administrators surveyed think their universities will not be able to continue competing against other institutions in the next five years if different departments do not integrate the information available to students. Moreover, 95% of the officials admitted it would be beneficial if a good program was applied to manage the relationship university-students and thus obtain more information. However, only 54% have the support of leaders to achieve it and 39% lack resources.

Students expect personalized treatment throughout their student cycle even in exchange for personal information. The institutions must improve their communication processes to connect personally with them from the application process and after graduation. This will not only benefit students experience but will also motivate more students to enroll in a particular university and encourage them to donate once they graduate, so data integration is vital for both parts.