a third of students have a negative or neutral feeling about choosing a university, according to an EY survey

In class: Business, science and technology, Covid-19
Subject: Polls, opinions and research

Quality education and preparation for the world of work are students’ priorities

The quality of online education is the lowest in terms of student satisfaction

Teachers want more training and time to integrate digital learning tools

LONDON, November 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ —According to a new EY report, universities urgently need to review their digital learning practices and student experience to help their faculty better meet student expectations. The report considered data from over 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in eleven countries (Australia, CanadaIndia, IrelandJapan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA), as well as staff focus groups and interviews with university leaders.

The surveyed students put high-quality teaching as their priority (83%). While the amount of face-to-face teaching compared to online learning was rated as unimportant, the quality of online learning was rated the lowest in terms of student satisfaction.

Students said they would like to see more investment in teacher training to deliver online courses more effectively (45%), develop better online learning materials (41%) and provide more support to students for effective digital learning (40%).

CatherineFriday, Global Head of Education at EY, explains:

Investments in digital education technologies have been on the list of university directors for years. The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated this need; implementation deadlines had to be reduced from several years to a few weeks. No one expects us to go back to the way we were before, but our review shows that much more investment and training is needed to equip students and teachers with the tools they need to function effectively in this new world. These systems and practices should be designed with the people who will use them in mind, not conforming to existing structures. They must be primarily aimed at students, but to be successful they must also work for teachers, researchers, administrative staff and support staff. In some cases, this may be a significant change, but when a third of students report that they have a negative or neutral opinion of their university experience and that the quality of teaching is their priority, it is clear that this need needs to be met. Since universities around the world are also facing financial problems, it makes no sense to lose students because of a problem they can easily solve.

New systems can help employees, but it takes training and time

The report suggests that more needs to be done to help faculty focus on their core mission of teaching, supporting students or research. Focus group participants want more training on best practices for blended learning (online and face-to-face), whether developing programs and content for effective digital or blended learning or providing support for teaching and learning.

Teachers and support staff need more time to integrate new tools and new ways of working because they currently spend too much time managing countless new systems and tools that are unintuitive, difficult to use, or redundant.

C.Friday says: Technologies can significantly facilitate the work of teachers, researchers and administrative staff. Replacing face-to-face lectures with high-quality open-access learning content can allow teachers to focus more on smaller face-to-face learning groups or use analytical tools to spot and help struggling students and develop personalized intervention plans. Greater automation of routine tasks, such as processing student applications, grading grades or submitting research grant applications, could also free up time for all university staff. However, it is important that any new system is designed with users in mind and comprehensive training is provided. Our research showed that some staff believe that poorly implemented digital systems increase workloads rather than help staff achieve their most important goal: meeting the needs of students and the community.

The research report is available here.

About EY

EY exists to create a better world of work, helping to create long-term value for clients, people and society and increasing confidence in financial markets.

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