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As 2022 Draws to a Close, What is Top of Mind in Higher Education?

By Navneet Johal November 4, 2022

I attended my first Educause Annual Conference in 2011, and it is no secret that I was overwhelmed by all of the great content! That content has only grown in breadth and depth over the years, with lots of choices and many trends to unpack. 

The Salesforce for Education team, Slack, Tableau, Mulesoft, and partner RIO Education attended the conference in full force once again (wish I could have got a picture of ALL of us!) as a silver sponsor, networking with and learning from the higher education community, and supporting the great content that our customers delivered. 

Even as 2022 draws to a close (can’t believe it is November already!), it is clear from the Educause conference and the latest edition of the Salesforce Connected Student Report, that there are still trends to watch and important issues to navigate that are top of mind for those in higher education. This blog will share three of those “top of mind” issues.

1. Creating a Frictionless Student Experience

Two people standing posing for a photo next to a graphic on a whiteboard

The findings of the third edition of the Connected Student Report revealed that only a third of students globally report having a “great university experience,” indicating that institutions have room to improve. We heard from Educause that using technology, data insight, and agility is necessary to ensure smooth sailing for the student experience. 

Florence Parodi and Melissa Hattaway from the University of Miami shared their story at the 2022 Education Summit and the Educause conference, how having a one-stop service approach dramatically improves the student experience. Furthermore, it gives institutions the opportunity to integrate more data, more processes, and more decision-makers. The University of Miami set up their virtual one-stop service, and then extended the solution to support the onboarding of six pilot offices to utilize case management, to better serve their students and other constituents.
Additionally, in an industry session at the conference, Doug Little from Georgetown University shared how the institution is building for the future of education with a holistic approach, putting students at the center of the experience.

2. Student Belonging, Connection, and Career Support Are a Must-Have

One person standing in front of a graphic showing ASU’s digital campus.

Belonging is the foundation for success, and students want to be prepared for the future of work were two of the four themes that emerged from this year’s Connected Student Report. Students are also looking for a more tailored experience and believe technology can help. 

Allison Hall (Arizona State University) hosted a great session at the Educause conference on how to engage students, staff, and faculty and build meaningful connections using Slack. Specifically, we got an inside look into ASU’s digital campus, where students can:

  • Find a Sense of Belonging – Customized Slack channels to help incoming students find their footing 
  • Get More from the Learning Experience – Students can connect with fellow classmates and faculty members in Slack
  • Remain a Part of the Sun Devil Community – Stay connected and engaged as a current student
  • Connect With a Success Coach – Students can get real-time career guidance and support via Slack

3. How To Redefine ITs Role to Further the Mission of Higher Education

A large group of people posing for a photo.

According to the Connected Student Report, the drive to create more connected campuses reflects institutional expectations for future hiring. Nearly half (48%) of staff surveyed expected their IT teams to grow or hire new staff. 

3 people posing for a photo standing next to a graphic on a whiteboard

However, Presidents and senior leadership are expecting more from IT leaders than ever before, which requires parity or a “seat at the table” with other institutional leaders. Carrie Shumaker (University of Michigan-Dearborn), Rebecca Joffrey (Cornell University), and Doug Little (Georgetown University) hosted a thought-provoking session and discussion during the Enterprise CRM Community Group Meetup on “Shifting from Traditional to Emerging IT: Now is the Time to Build a New Table, with New Seats.” All three of these leaders have been tapped to support emerging technologies for mass communication, commerce, and innovative models for delivering education, which means they have had to think about new partnerships across the institution. 

At Educause, they discussed with attendees how to redefine IT’s role in business technology conversations and how to combine business unit and functional ownership to meet the challenges of a technology landscape that is increasingly essential to solving the complex issues that universities face today.

Check out the full Connected Student Report to understand the changing expectations of students and staff while uncovering opportunities to improve student experiences. In addition, check out our Educause page for key takeaways!