New research from international management consultancy Nous Group shows that while there is no silver bullet for delivering an outstanding student experience, technology is the critical enabler as student populations grow in size and continue to diversify.

Bringing together the perspectives and experiences from more than 180 student experience leaders at universities across Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada, Nous’ new report, From promise to pragmatism: Delivering a better student experience, identifies the challenges, opportunities and practical approaches which are taking student experience from good to great.

Nous Group Principal and Global Head of Higher Education Zac Ashkanasy said: “In today’s operating environment, universities are balancing increasing financial and operational pressures alongside the need to continually improve and evolve their student experience.

“An outstanding experience is delivered when it is designed for all students however our research shows most universities are yet to meet the changing needs of their diverse student populations and are struggling to cost-effectively scale their support.”

According to the report, many universities – and especially large universities – do not believe their student experience model caters well for students from diverse backgrounds, including first-in-family, culturally and linguistically diverse, and Indigenous students. In fact, 60 per cent of survey respondents said their current support model only somewhat caters to diverse student cohorts and different needs.

Similarly, the needs of students undertaking postgraduate coursework and research were thought to be overlooked and most also believe the needs of online students are not always properly considered.

Nous Group Principal and co-author of the report Davina McArthur said: “Increasingly university leaders are considering student experience holistically across the university ecosystem but with so many different cohorts, journeys and moments that matter, creating a cohesive experience for all students, and at scale, is increasingly complex.

“There’s no quick-fix to improving student experience but the astute use of technology can certainly help institutions simplify where they can, freeing up the resources needed to solve more intricate issues.”

All student experience leaders reported an increase in technology investment over the last five years and more than half (54 per cent) of respondents said that improved technology has been the most effective way of enhancing their student experience to its current level.

When asked what type of technology their institution would like to invest in over the next two to three years, process automation, fully integrated service platforms and student self-servicing topped the wish lists for university leaders surveyed.

“While there are several approaches universities can take to evolve student experience and design bespoke solutions, it’s clear that technology will continue to play an important role in improving the experience of both students and staff across the board,” Davina added.

About the report

From promise to pragmatism: Delivering a better student experience is a new report based on a Nous Group study exploring different approaches to improving student experience at universities. It also looks at contemporary students’ expectations of higher education and how confident institutions are in meeting them. The study involved:

  • preliminary discussions with university student experience leaders, including executives and directors responsible for student experience and success
  • a survey of more than 180 student experience leaders at universities across Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK)
  • workshops and roundtables with staff and students to test and validate findings
  • in-depth interviews with leaders to further explore the emerging themes
  • Nous’ experience working with universities across Australia, Canada and the UK and research into leading global practice.

About Nous Group

Nous Group is an international management consultancy with over 750 people working across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.

Nous’ broad consulting capability spans strategy, organisational performance, leadership and capability, transformation and implementation, economics, public policy, data and analytics, digital and design. By partnering with clients and complementing their strengths, Nous helps businesses, governments and community organisations transform to realise a bigger idea of success.

Founded in Australia, Nous has been delivering positive influence that significantly improves people’s lives since 1999. Find out more at

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