At UK universities, student satisfaction is a huge driver. Measured annually, it is used to rank each university in a league table, pulling in – or putting off – future customers. For Claudette Jones, then, most of her work in 2017 as Chief Information Officer of the University of the West of Scotland was about improving student satisfaction.
Her team completed a major infrastructure upgrade, with ubiquitous WiFi (a big driver of student satisfaction) across five geographically distinct campuses. She also halved travelling time for staff by introducing videoconferencing to every device. A softphone rollout was the final step in making staff truly mobile across all campuses, allowing them to log on as though they were in their own office wherever they were.
She reduced the large number of disparate systems (timetabling, library, grades, virtual learning, incidents, mail and documents, plagiarism checker, etc) that students need to access with multiple user names and passwords by introducing single sign-on. And with her team set up a single portal for students to access all their information in one place rather than having to go through a multiple URLs. The students in the 2017 intake were accordingly handed a single URL and one username/password combination rather than three sides of A4 containing all the necessary system information, log-on details, etc.
She ditched a Google Maps-like location finder app that didn't work inside buildings and was poor at showing which way the user was facing. In its place came a wayfinder app that uses photographs instead of a 2D map. If a student wants to go from the reception area to a class, it shows a picture of the reception with an arrow pointing to the correct door; go through that door and the next picture will tell you to go up the stairs.
And she introduced a student engagement tracker that alerts tutors to students who are starting to miss lectures, stopping going to the library, etc, so they can see if that student needs help.
And while students have undoubtedly been Jones's focus, she had also taken the mass of data the university has about students to create dashboards to help manage the business with data-driven decisions. The dashboards showed, for example, that the students on one particular course were less likely to be in employment after graduating, helping convince the course leader to add more work experience to the course to help gain better results when the next cohort leaves.