Attracting students is increasingly about digital leadership

A new report from Jisc highlights the increasing importance of the capable delivery of technology-enhanced learning in HE

Institutions with a poor level of digital acumen among university staff will see their ability to attract students suffer, according to research released this week by the digital solutions provider for higher and further education, Jisc.

A survey of 1,000 16-24 year olds, commissioned by the digital experts, found that three-quarters (75 per cent) of higher education students surveyed believe that having staff with the appropriate digital skills is an important factor when choosing a university. Ninety-nine per cent of students think that technology is becoming increasingly important in education, while sixty-two per cent believe technology keeps them more engaged.

These student survey results further reinforce the findings of a recent report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Jisc titled, Rebooting Learning for the Digital Age. In the report both parties call on university leaders to embrace new technology to meet the challenges faced by the higher education sector.

Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc said: “In today’s digital age, it’s crucial institutional leaders stay up-to-date with digital trends and grasp how to leverage new technologies if they wish to deliver an enhanced learning experience to their students. Possessing technology and understanding the digital world is no longer the sole domain of IT managers, all student facing staff need to be digitally savvy. A student’s expectations of a university are shifting, they live and breathe the digital environment and seek the same qualities in their university and its staff. If an institution wants to be an effective and attractive organisation, it has to also live and breathe the digital world.”

Feldman added: “Institutions which want to remain competitive need to commit to developing a digitally skilled workforce and embed digital capabilities into recruitment, staff development, appraisal, reward and recognition. With these results and the growing level of competition both home and abroad, universities should recognise this shift and ensure the digital agenda is being led at senior levels within their institution. Any universities that fail to do so, put themselves at risk of becoming irrelevant.”

The potential of technology enabled learning was a key theme discussed by further education and higher education managers, and sector experts at this year’s Digifest. 

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