By Jason Barr | Executive | Safety Solutions | NEC XON
The message is clear: “We want digital”; 53% “very ready” to adopt.
Higher education institutions are being forced to restructure. Digital disruption affects them as much as any other organisation. Their “customers” want new services and new ways to engage them. The economy into which those post-graduate students must integrate seeks new or different credentials. There is also a view, gathering respectability among pundits, that people in future will need to continue learning to support multiple careers, not just multiple job types or “gigs” as they do today.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, academia knew digital transformation was a challenge. The International Association of Universities (IAU) report “Higher Education in the Digital Era” merely confirmed it. In fact, 39% of African private and public higher education institutions saw it as a major hurdle.
Change being forced. It’s also worth noting that only 18% of the same institutions expect they will continue using technology for both teaching and governance the same way they did before the pandemic.
Money, connectivity, capacity, culture, faculty, staff interest and desire, as well as national policies, hold many back.
If they had their way, most higher education institutions would use digital transformation for better information governance, new teaching methods, improving student experiences, better research, and making education more accessible. Additionally, safety crops up in two places: online and on campus.
It’s no secret that taking all the data, interactions, and people online offers both opportunity and peril for managing student experiences from enrolment to learning, as well as outcomes.
How you do it makes all the difference and it’s not for lack of will that it’s progressed no further.
Overcoming new challenges. Fifty-three per cent of African higher education respondents to the IAU report said they are “very ready” to adopt digital transformation.
It’s little wonder. They have suffered extensive disruption from the pandemic and competitor digitalisation. New challenges include costs, fees, attracting top students, research funding, and tougher competition. Tertiary institutions must be more efficient, compliant, safe, and offer better student services to be competitive. Physical safety and security are paramount, as is cybersecurity for connected campuses, remote students, and administration. Like many other organisations, education has a pronounced new need to protect and share data for administration, work, and learning via the latest channels.
In the bid to educate 1 million students at 45 private and public universities in South Africa, the allure of digital transformation is powerful. Certainly, it’s no panacea. But it does offer the potential to improve operations, teaching, learning, student experiences and services. But organisations are challenged to get it right and beat their competitors in the process.
Solutions delivering advantage. Advanced biometrics and artificial intelligence, as well as the infrastructure that many organisations already possess, such as cost-effective CCTV, can make campuses efficient and safe again. Integrated, orchestrated, and automated infrastructure and solutions, in standards-based deployments based on proven frameworks, accelerates the benefits. Self-service kiosks that harness multi-modal biometrics based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) create exponential possibilities for student independence, reducing administrative burden, and improve safety.
These are just some of the ways that we help higher education cope with their significant wealth of challenges. However, there is a great deal of detail, nuance and complexity layered into the unique scenarios at each institution. No systems integrator or solution provider can honestly claim to serve the total needs of every higher education institution’s digital transformation undertaking. It is far too comprehensive.
We help mines, educational institutions, telecoms operators, financial services organisations and many others, throughout Africa, with the solutions I described. Talk to us if you think we can help you or want to know more about how we may.