We co created the future of student experience at the University of Alberta Nous Group

We co-created the future of student experience at the University of Alberta

Our Work | Case Study

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The University of Alberta is a research-intensive and student-centred university with 42,000 students enrolled.

The university has an ambitious goal for student experience

The University of Alberta (the U of A) has set ambitious goals, including an institution-level priority to enrol and deliver an excellent student experience to 60,000 students by 2030. To get there, the university is embracing student-centred thinking and delivery.

We worked with the U of A to develop its Student Experience Action Plan (SEAP), a suite of expertly designed products that were co-created with the university’s students, staff, faculty and alumni.

We positively impacted students through the project process, not just the outputs

Bringing our experience in co-design strategies, we worked with a multi-disciplinary U of A team to develop the SEAP.

We actively included students at every step of the journey:

  • We established a co-sponsorship model that included student representatives, faculty and senior administrative staff. This group jointly guided risk mitigation, project progress and final deliverables. Several students were employed directly in data collection and analysis.
  • We engaged with more than 1,200 students through on-campus engagement, focus groups and workshops with student advisory and governance groups.
  • We co-created the student experience commitment statement and underpinning principles, and the ideal future student journey in workshops with at least 50 per cent student representation.
  • We surveyed a representative 19 per cent of the student population to understand how student experience differs across study areas and lived experiences.

In total we collected more than 8,500 student responses and more than 350 staff and faculty responses. This created the university’s most comprehensive dataset on the student experience, allowing the university to “walk the walk” on meaningful student engagement throughout the project, not just once the SEAP was developed.

University of Alberta 1 2 Nous Group
The U of A community embraced the Student Experience Action Plan.

The university has stepped into a new age for student experience

After our engagement, the university was equipped to take the next step in its ambitions for student experience. We delivered:

  • a student commitment statement, principles, student journey maps (see example below) and archetypes
  • a robust dataset of quantitative and qualitative student experience data
  • student experience key performance indicators (KPIs) and an accountability framework
  • templates for use in future student-centred work at the university.

Along the way we supported the talented team from the university to develop new skills in design thinking and student-centred practices, so they can continue this approach beyond the project.

The university’s commitment to genuine co-creation and the depth of engagement from staff and faculty shows that the university hears the student voice loud and clear – and is acting on it.

University of Alberta Student Journey Map Nous Group
This undergraduate student journey map is helping the U of A.

You can read more from the Nous project team on co-designing student experience.

What you can learn from this project

Co-creation is key; we involved students throughout the project, using a co-sponsorship model and iterative co-creation approach that put the student voice at the forefront.

To gather the most comprehensive data, we used both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, enabling us to understand issues affecting the majority of students, as well as equity-seeking student groups.

We engaged the whole university community, from deans and teaching assistants to staff in central units, to understand the holistic experience of students and consider administration and academics alike.