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Universities must take action to attract the best students and improve retention rates

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With rising expectations from the “digital native” generation, today’s universities must work harder to ensure their delivery, culture and infrastructure are more focused on employability outcomes. The good news is that institutions can achieve this goal by acting on key insights gained through better data analysis – and thus boost student recruitment by 20%, retention by 25% and their reputation by 30% in the process.


According to Portal, the award-winning business and technology consultancy, learners are demanding strong employability outcomes during their course and immediately after their exams in order to return the investment they have made in their higher education. As such, universities need to demonstrate that if they are to raise fees even higher through mapping to inflation as well as increasing the cost of credit, that they are able to truly offer outstanding value by ensuring students are fully career-ready for the best jobs in the market, which increasingly demand global workplace skills.

With the right technology, educational institutions can now use their data to personalise the experience that their students receive, from the moment they enrol on a course through to completion. In addition, institutions can gain much deeper insight into each student’s needs and learning style, so that they can tailor their teaching and support to ensure a perfect fit for every individual. As a result, educational institutions are now able to make much more informed decisions about how to best support – and retain – their students.

Cailean Hargrave, head of education at Portal, comments:

“Student engagement and, more specifically, student retention are now a key focus for UK universities. In order to make improvements in both of these areas, institutions will need to develop a student experience that is not only exceptional and personalised to each individual’s interests and aspirations, but which is also capable of supporting of a single user’s lifelong relationship with the university.”

“In our experience, not all universities are equipped in order to take advantage of industry partnerships with a commercial focus and hence may find that the offerings they can make to their learners are limited. Our clients have shown that the ability to provide personalised learning paths for each student can be used to make significant gains in recruitment, retention and reputation, as it can provide real-time insight into a variety of important metrics that not only help to shape the student experience, but also drive successful career pathways and employability outcomes.”