The BBC web site ran a troubling article this week: Four in 10 students say university not good value. It's troubling if you are an A-level Student who is about to run up a huge amount of debt for an uncertain future. It should also be troubling for those working in Higher Education. How could a whole student cohort have passed through the system without anyone picking this up?
Times they are a-changin' in Education:
The article contains an interesting quote from the Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge:
"Universities are responding to this and are also improving the amount of information to students about courses to ensure that their experience matches their expectations."
Does this mean that the approach Universities are taking to this threat is to tell students the bad news early to manage their expectations? It's time for Universities to wake up and listen to what their students want... and that doesn't mean "give them a survey when it's too late to do anything about it" by the way.
Eric Ries's excellent book The Lean Startup proposes a "Build Measure Learn" approach. It would be glib to say that Universities should just do this though. There is a fantastic amount of necessary regulation in HE which would make this difficult, if not impossible. Yet nothing forbids the application of some these ideas. Engage with students throughout their experience and act on their feedback. In fact, Chapter B5 of the QAA Quality Code would seem to promote this.
Students make a huge investment in their future, and their expectations are high. To meet such expectations, you have to do more than send out a survey when the dust has settled and hope for the best. You need to engage with students and do something with that engagement. Provide students with a safe environment to discuss, hear their voice, discover what they need, then act.
If you'd like to know more about how to do this, get in touch. I'd love to see how I can help.
I'm a Management Consultant based in UK. Thoughts on Facilitation, Agile, Coaching, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology, Innovation Games®, Gamestorming and Training from the BACK of the Room!