Digital edge

A survey shows students are increasingly opting for universities with a strong digital infrastructure.

February 08, 2015 04:06 pm | Updated 06:09 pm IST

Gone are the days when classrooms were limited to a monotonous teacher-student relationship based on rote learning from textbooks.

Today, students are opting for colleges and universities which provide a number of facilities. Technology has penetrated to a level where before opting for a college, students keep in mind various factors such as the use of digital tools in the teaching methodology, online classes, wifi facilities and so on.

Students across the world spend a large amount of time on digital platforms.

Mobile phones, computers, laptops and tablets have become indispensible for information as well as entertainment.

In such a scenario, there are several reasons why students opt for universities that have a digital presence. A digital platform is contemporary and extremely relevant today. It is mostly convenient and usable on the go; not as mundane as books and, thus, easier to engage with and, lastly, it can help generate interest among students and enable them to learn subjects better.

What students want

A recent worldwide survey by IT firm Accenture says that students seek the most promising digital capabilities and services while choosing a university. A total of 1,500 students were observed for this survey in mid-2014 (300 per country, including university-bound secondary students, current university students and recent university graduates).

Fielded by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), the survey was polled from across Australia, India, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. Globally, 70 per cent of respondents called for greater use of digital tools for learning and content delivery in schools.

The research revealed that as universities compete to attract students, digital capabilities are a major draw. Like successful government programmes and businesses, universities need to rise to the challenge of addressing demands for digital services among current and prospective students.

According to the survey, 85 per cent of college-bound students from India, Australia, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K, who formed part of the survey sample emphasised digital capabilities such as integration of technology into classrooms, virtual coursework and online classes as top determinants while choosing a university.

Age of technology

In the case of India, 98 per cent of the students evaluated the digital technology infrastructure of a university before securing admission.

In addition to giving priority to digital technologies, the survey results also showed that 50 per cent of Indian students obtained information about universities from college, while the multicountry average stood at 32 per cent.

Nowadays, schools offer classroom technology as well as online learning mediums right from kindergarten. Thus students obviously want to choose an evolved educational institute that is inclined towards technology.

There are some interesting observations that the survey yielded:

Indian students value digital capabilities at universities more than respondents in the other nations polled.

Cost of attending university is less of a concern in India compared to other nations.

Satisfaction levels with overall university experience are higher in India than in the other nations.

Indian students value university websites as the most useful means of getting information about potential universities to attend, to a greater extent than in the other nations.

Universities should also consider spending more effort on their websites. The Accenture survey found that 35 per cent of university-bound students in Singapore consider university websites as the most valuable source of information ahead of advice from teachers and guidance counsellors (18 per cent), the word of their family and friends (10 per cent) and open house visits (8 per cent).

Simultaneously, universities must capitalise on the utility of websites to highlight what they offer, including the digital capabilities, as clearly, a majority of Indian students prefer to join colleges that have digital strengths.

The writer is the Executive Director of Entrance

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