A couple of months ago, staff from Boston University marshalled themselves to phone all 4,300 freshmen and transfer students – just to see how they are getting on. Even the Dean of Students Kenn Elmore and the Provost got in on the act.
Closer to home at the University of Manchester, the new Directorate of Student Experience – created and delivered an Ask ME campaign during orientation week. More than 2000 academic and administrative staff including the University President, Dame Nancy Rothwell, volunteered to wear a badge with the words Ask ME emblazoned on it. The idea was that any student could approach anyone wearing the badge and ask them anything. Who are you? Where is the closest Starbucks? How do I register for class?
Here at INTO where the student experience is central to everything we do, the decision to send emails to agents and parents to confirm the safe arrival has had an incredible impact. A tiny gesture, to let our students and agents know they matter to us individually resonates very powerfully.
The quality of the student experience is everyone’s responsibility. If the President of the University of Manchester and the Dean of Students at Boston University can take time out of their day to check up on students, then that should be a lesson to us all. For all of us in centres, in our partner universities or in country, remembering that behind the statistics are real human beings with hopes, fears and expectations is key to our long-term success – and is not too much trouble.
While we dedicate enormous resources into understanding, measuring and delivering on the experience, academically, pastorally and socially, I am reminded of the old Depeche Mode tune Everything Counts.
So let’s ask ourselves, what have we done today to enhance our students’ experience? And what will we do tomorrow?
Author: Tim O'Brien
Tim is Vice President, Global Partner Development, INTO University Partnerships