NTT DATA Business Solutions
Mark Arts | September 7, 2018

Happy New Academic Year!


Even more so than New Year’s Day, the start of the academic year in September can feel like a fresh start, filled with new opportunities. More and more – and more! – opportunities, it seems. At the start of this academic year, The Dutch Minister of Education Ms Ingrid van Engelshoven addressed the high workload and increased pressure students experience nowadays. While the freedom and flexibility to choose part of their curriculum is a great and important way for students to develop professional as well as interpersonal skills, it shouldn’t lead to problems like stress or even study delays. Higher education institutions can guide students in this process by implementing software that can help them make informed decisions about their elective curriculum.

Modern-day student guidance

Curricula for today’s higher education degrees consist of compulsory as well as a growing percentage of elective subjects. For many students – and therefore for the schools and universities – the freedom of choice of the elective program is really appealing. As mentioned, however, it can also be confusing and distracting.

How to deal with, or guide, students who have chosen elective subjects that don’t contribute to the requirements of their degree? Or those who select subjects that require skills they have previously shown to struggle with? Clever software solutions can easily show which requirements a student still needs to fulfill to graduate – or suggest an alternative.

Such what-if scenarios are very insightful for students and enable them to plan their curricula with less guidance from student advisers. Moreover, when a student does visit the adviser, he or she is able to pull up a complete and up-to-date digital personal file that includes all agreements the student has made with other advisers or teachers. This allows for highly personal and in-depth guidance which reduces uncertainties for students and decreases the risk of study delays.

Freedom of choice is the new norm

Today’s students want the possibility to select a wide range of elective subjects. It can help faculties to get more students to register. Freedom of choice is the new norm – for a number of reasons.

For one thing, the student body of all higher education institutions is increasingly diverse. The number of international students is growing steadily. This offers wonderful opportunities, but it also demands that the school or university meets the needs of this diverse student corps.

Moreover, today’s students have grown up with Instagram, Snapchat, Amazon, and myriad comparable web shops with intuitive, clear and personalized interfaces. This means that they expect a lot from the software they use. Students do not compare the online experience of one university with other universities but with companies, apps, and games.

And finally, since the increases in tuition fees, student loans and other costs for students across Europe, students are acting more and more like consumers. They no longer regard it as a privilege to go to college or university, but they expect a lot from the institution that helps them receive the degree they pay so much money for.

All in all, these shifts in the student body and their behaviors presents higher education institutions with new challenges that can be eased with the right software.

Automation and personalization

So, how can software be helpful for all these challenges? The key lies in a powerful audit functionality. This means that the system is filled with rules as well as sets of rules. For instance: a student that started in 2017 is required to take six compulsory courses in his or her first year, while students starting in 2018 only need to take five. Such rules can be linked to individual students, but the software also offers the flexibility to automate these rules for the entire generation of students.

Powerful IT-solutions allow higher education institutions to offer freedom of choice and personalized guidance to their entire student body, while automating and structuring these in a reliable and transparent software system. This not only decreases the workload of staff, it also meets the needs of today’s students.

Elongate the excitement of the new academic year by guiding students through the difficult but wonderful process of compiling their personal curricula. Want to know more about the possibilities? Feel free to contact me or download our solution brief.

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