Universities: Transform transformation in higher education or fail

Another year’s CASE Europe Annual Conference has been and gone, and it was as insightful and enjoyable as ever. Read on for a recap and video of our plenary session, delivered by Precedent’s HE specialist Michael Frantzis.

Higher education is changing, and digital is at the heart of it. The tipping point is upon us and failing to adapt will soon see institutions fall behind the curve. We all know it, so why is it that digital transformations in higher education typically end up failing, often after very high levels of spending?

Things like silos, a lack of digital skills, clunky legacy systems and governance structures that are unfit for purpose, are common themes in many of the conversations we've had with universities around blockers to launching and implementing successful digital transformation initiatives. 

Ahead of our talk, we asked delegates what they had found to be the biggest blocker(s) in their institution’s digital missions. Here’s what they had to say.

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Much like many of the conversations we had with delegates, culture, buy-in, resources and skill-sets are all key concerns, along with the ubiquitous budget. 

Universities are all too aware of their problems, and there are many dedicated people committed to changing the status quo. However, often, existing institutional governance structures enable competing philosophies and departmental agendas to coexist, rather than help unite behind a central vision that can be acted upon. Successful transformation comes only when teams institution-wide are empowered to understand data, design improvement and implement digital projects within the boundaries of a shared vision. 

So what’s the way forward?

The short version is: get the right vision forming process, reform procurement, and build the right relationships with the right partners.

Senior executive teams need to examine their objectives and understanding first, then instigate a digital, student-first culture at all levels. This is about attitude as well as training. Tried and tested techniques have been solving exactly these kinds of problems for years, but context is everything. Adopting these powerful tools across an organisation around an inspirational vision will enable effective objectives setting and the right culture to achieve them.

There has been a great deal of learning over the last few years, and there are some very smart individuals within our universities that really understand the deep digitisation of society, and the growing scientific, technological and creative skillset which comes with it.

They understand the interrelationship between requirements for a student-centric approach, meaning they can work with a number of specialist partners who can combine expertise across a large number of areas in an agile manner. What they need is support and engagement from the VC and executive, a clear vision to work to, and a procurement team that understands the objective and is willing to work with them to ensure a successful transformation, not just a successful procurement.

For the slightly longer version, watch the talk in full on YouTube. 


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Friday, 24 Aug 2018