Enhancing the Student Experience to Boost Retention: Best Practices for Your Institution

Delivering a positive student experience is critical to increasing retention rates. Higher Education institutions must ensure students' needs are met at every step of the journey, from enrolment to graduation. A robust student experience strategy is essential. Why? So, Colleges and Universities can increase recruitment and retention rates to provide financial stability and protect reputation. Here, we explore how measuring student satisfaction and well-being can help your institution attract and retain a diverse population of students. 

Table of contents: 


What are the challenges facing higher education institutions? 

Higher education institutions in the UK face several challenges, including ongoing financial pressures due to reduced government funding, a need to improve access and participation for disadvantaged groups, and concerns about student mental health.  

Brexit has also created uncertainty around research funding and international student recruitment. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation, which has created challenges around ensuring fair access to technology and providing high-quality online learning experiences.  

Finally, there is a growing concern that higher education institutions are not providing students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

What is the student experience and why is it important? 

As higher education institutions strive to attract and retain the best students, the quality of the student experience has become a critical factor. But what exactly is the student experience? Simply put, it's the sum of all the academic, social, and personal experiences that students have while studying at university. 

A positive student experience can help colleges and universities deal with recruitment challenges by attracting and retaining a diverse student population, offering unique programs and flexible learning options, investing in student support services, and building a strong reputation. By prioritising the student experience, institutions can create a culture of learning and success that benefits both students and institutions.

How does a bad student experience impact a Higher Education institution? 

Enrolment numbers and dropout rates are top of mind for higher education institutions across the UK. With the rising costs of education and limited funding, institutions are feeling the financial pinch, making it critical to attract and retain students. 

While the number of students enroled in UK higher education institutions has increased in recent years, the number of first-time degree enrolments is decreasing. Plus, 6 in every 100 (6.3%) students in the UK drop out of university, meaning that a bad student experience could cost institutions thousands of pounds every year.  

Prioritising the student experience will enable institutions to attract and retain a diverse student population, increase student success, and ultimately ensure their own long-term financial viability. 

How are the student experience and student satisfaction linked? 

A positive student experience leads to higher levels of student satisfaction, while a negative one results in lower satisfaction rates. Everything from the quality of teaching and course content to the availability of support services and campus amenities contributes to the overall student experience.  

By offering a supportive and engaging environment, institutions can create a positive experience for students, leading to higher satisfaction rates. When students feel motivated and connected, they are more likely to stay engaged, succeed, and ultimately become loyal ambassadors for the institution. By prioritising the student experience, institutions can create a thriving academic community with students at the heart of it all. 

Best practices to increase student enrolment rates. 

At insight6, we work with higher educational institutions to develop a comprehensive student experience strategy that attracts and retains the right candidates. Here are some of the best practices our local CX specialists help colleges and universities implement: 

Use data-driven insights: Understand how potential students engage with various recruitment channels, such as social media, online search engines, and course literature. Tailor recruitment strategies accordingly to attract the right students to open days. 

Create a standout experience: Open days should be used to make a memorable first impression. Incorporate live demonstrations, key speakers, and student participation to showcase the institution's unique value proposition. Ensure consistency across faculties and touchpoints to create a cohesive and impactful brand experience. 

Maintain communication: Regularly communicate with potential students from registration of interest through to clearing to keep them engaged and informed. 

Map the student journey: Conducting customer (student) journey mapping and feedback analysis will help colleges and universities to continuously improve the recruitment process, from the initial research stage through to enrolment. 

By leveraging data-driven insights and feedback analysis, institutions can improve communication, create standout experiences at open days, and streamline the recruitment journey. These factors help colleges and universities deliver a great first impression and a positive student experience.

Best practices to reduce student dropout rates. 

At insight6, our local CX specialists work closely with colleges and universities to map out scenarios and intervention processes to improve situations and better understand the required support. Here are some of the best practices to reduce student dropout rates: 

Support the whole student: From academic challenges to social issues, there are many factors that can contribute to a student dropping out. It's important to consider the whole student experience and provide the necessary support to address these challenges. By offering a range of services, such as mental health support, financial assistance, and career guidance, institutions can create a more supportive environment that encourages students to stay the course. 

Encourage engagement: Students who are engaged in their courses and the wider university community are more likely to persist with their studies. Encourage engagement by offering extracurricular activities, community events, and opportunities for student leadership. These experiences can help students to build relationships, develop new skills, and feel more invested in their university experience. 

Monitor performance and feedback: One of the best ways to reduce dropout rates is to monitor student performance and gather regular feedback. By identifying students who are struggling early on, institutions can offer targeted support to help them stay on track. Regular feedback can also help institutions to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to enhance the student experience. 

By gaining regular and consistent feedback with expert support, institutions can quickly act or resolve issues to improve situations that could lead to a bad student experience. By partnering with insight6, colleges and universities can proactively plan to improve the student experience and importantly reduce dropout rates.

How do you measure the student experience and well-being? 

Measuring the student experience or monitoring student well-being is essential, but understanding how to interpret the data and what to do with it is even more critical.  

At insight6, we understand that the potential lifetime value of each enquiry is substantial. We support hundreds of UK higher education providers to improve the student experience to improve the overall student experience, increase retention rates, and attract future students.  

To transform the student experience, you must first understand how you perform in your students' eyes. Our total feedback solution,  instant insight, is an easy, cost-effective way to regularly and consistently analyse the feedback from your students and employees. 

Using instant insight will:   

✓ Allow you to gain student feedback.  

✓ Help you gain employee feedback.  

✓ Monitor admissions & open days.  

✓ Track course satisfaction.  

✓ Analyse/report on student well-being.  

✓ Benchmark against your competitors.  

✓ Increase positive online reviews.

In summary, a robust student experience strategy is essential if you are looking to succeed in today's competitive market. At insight6, we help colleges and universities deliver impactful student experiences that drive real institutional growth. By partnering with us, you will better understand the factors that affect your student experience and how to enhance it to drive institutional success.  

Don't let the cost of unhappy or stressed students ruin your reputation or impact your institution's success. Get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation chat with your local CX specialist or to arrange a free demo of our total feedback solution - instant insight. 


Leave a comment