Strap yourselves in

Your institution’s journey to success depends on student administration, says Daniel Barrass

Registry is the backbone of an institution, the engine room for the places where leaders are made. The film directors of tomorrow are enrolled through this function; the next generation of barristers’ classes and examinations are scheduled through this function; and future Prime Ministers are given careers advice by this function.

With this in mind, any institution with students at its heart should have student administration at its heart too. Now if we care for our heart then we must nurture it, support it and allow it to grow and become strong. Managing student administration and the data it yields (in an efficient way) must be at the absolute core of our universities.

Lost in a sea of data

Every single interaction between a student and a university produces inordinate volumes of data every academic year, from assessment data to VLE interaction to visits to the Students’ Union bar – that equates to millions of records. So we know who produces it but what are we to do? Having the right technology for the right job is crucial in order to make sense of the data we hold. The right technology frees our student administration functions to analyse, predict and progress, instead of just processing information. There is simply no need for offices stacked floor to ceiling with folders, archaic spreadsheets saved only to the desktop of the office junior, or ponderous in-house systems developed by colleagues long since departed.

The smart institution chooses their tools wisely.

Building a solid foundation

Universities must leave behind any notion of ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ and embrace technology which is better aligned to comprehensive, strategic student services delivery. The ones that do gain a more complete picture of student success and can identify and leverage further technology to efficiently meet students’ needs.

Making technology work for us and the way we work is out there, it just takes honesty and bravery to make big decisions.

So what can we do to make student administration more efficient?

  • Manage: Create one true record for each student, before they even enrol.
  • Integrate: We know there is no one system that does everything. We must make sure our systems integrate effectively.
  • Review: Benchmark against our peers to see just where we are and what we can do better.
  • Improve: Have a vision and a plan flexible enough to achieve our goals.
  • Communicate: Ask our students (and staff) what matters to them.


Knowing where we want to be. The journey to success

The key to being efficient in student administration is knowing where we are, where we want to be, and how we are going to get there. The journey to success is something we specialise in, whatever that looks like.  

The University of St. Andrews is currently on that journey. Transforming their student administration to make it simple and sustainable – with a tangible improvement in the overall student experience; both digitally and physically. University of Gloucestershire, Kings College London, University of Hull and University of Wales Trinity St. David are just a few other institutions that have recently embarked on their personal continuous improvement journey with us and we’d like to take that journey with you too. 

We are higher education. Just like you.

Find out more about Tribal online at and on Twitter @tribalgroup



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