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The Tapestry that is the University – New Weavings in Higher Education

Loughborough University, United Kingdom, April 5, 2016 — Dr. Jacquelyn “Jacqui” D. Elliott recently presented at the 2016 Student Records Officer Conference (SROC). There, she discussed the changing landscape of universities–what she calls “tapestries”, and the challenges higher education professionals face through adoption or rejection of policy, which affects the “weavings” that often become the accepted culture of higher education. Her discussion further highlighted many of the similarities faced by global higher education professionals, to include limited resources, financial downturns, and dynamic changes in technology. So what was her main takeaway? Each person on a university campus is responsible for his or her own thread, and how that thread weaves the tapestry that is the face of the university.

Jacqui Presenting

Whether in the UK, or the US, finances are often the biggest hurdle colleges and universities face. And, students often experience mounting financial barriers in the enrollment process, since many institutional policies demand more forms than actually required by US state and federal governments. This additional minutia creates the possibility of a student not even enrolling in college because of the hurdles placed before them. This, in turn, affects the reputation of a university through convoluted customer service. Additionally, tuition costs for education have become exorbitant across the globe. The UK has experienced tuition caps at £9,000, similar to many state-imposed tuition freezes in the US. Areas for possible reduction include redundant staffing or bloated policies that create more work, take up more resources, and clutter-up the landscape of higher education. This affects both the staff and students degrading the richly woven fabric of universities.

Another difficulty facing administrators is keeping up-to-date with the rapidly changing advancements in technology used in today’s society. Jacqui explains how much the current trends have changed:

“When we started, there was no Facebook, Twitter was a sound, 4G was a parking place, the cloud was something that made us pack an umbrella for work, LinkedIn was a prison and Skype was a typo.”

These advanced technical solutions and applications are an expectation for those paying premium tuitions. As higher education administrators, technology offers a way to streamline outdated processes that keep universities moving forward and globally connected to students, ultimately, creating the new fabric of higher learning.

So what can be done to keep the tapestry from unraveling? Simplicity. Make administrative processes clear. Allow students easy access to the knowledge and services they seek. Limit the amount of student debt incurred, and help launch students into the workplace with applicable skills that will help them in their future work environments.