Higher education – the importance of transforming back-office functions

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The recent pandemic is not only changing the way higher education is being delivered, it is also redefining how educational institutions are operating behind the scenes

In the face of the ongoing global health crisis, many industries and services are seeing drastic changes in the way they function. One sector where this is occurring is in higher education.

As educational institutions get to grips with restrictions to in-person instruction and the increasing shift to online classes, they are facing two major challenges in delivering their programs effectively and efficiently in the new normal:

  • Setting up and managing online classrooms supported by next-generation technology
  • Adapting back-office functions to support digital classrooms.

The digital classroom

Although online, digital classrooms have existed since the mid-1980s, face-to-face instruction continues to be the preferred method of teaching for both teachers and students alike. Being on campus has the benefit of enabling students to network and experience a certain level of camaraderie, while providing a more personalized approach for students who need extra help or support.

This isn’t to say that online courses weren’t available. They just tended to be more for specialized programs or certifications, and were not available across all flagship programs most universities offered. However, as the pandemic continues to disrupt normal life, universities are switching towards online classes for programs traditionally taught in-person.

On top of this, international students have been a key source of revenue for educational institutions. However, increasing restrictions regarding international movement has reduced the number of international students not only attending classes but also admitted and enrolled in classes. This has impacted the revenue flow for universities around the world.

In short, switching to online tuition has become a necessity for many brick and mortar colleges and universities.

Time to adapt

This shift towards online, digital classrooms has accelerated the need for universities to transform their back-office functions. Traditionally, every university had its own approach to how their back office was set up and ran it the way they deemed fit.

However, with the growing need to create a more streamlined way of operating, more universities are having to move away from their personalized modes of back-office functions. This represents an excellent opportunity for universities to standardize core aspects of their back-office functions in finance and HR, reducing operational redundancies and generate cost efficiencies.

My advice? A targeted maturity assessment program can help education institutions rapidly identify areas for improvement and create a target transformation roadmap to unlock immediate savings in the finance back-office operations.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM) platform can help higher education institutions transform their back-office functions enabling them to be competitive in a rapidly changing, digital business context, contact: priya.ganesh@capgemini.com

Priya Ganesh  has worked for Capgemini for the last 12 years, first as a Solutions Architect and now as a Senior Director leading the solutions and transformation practice across APAC. She enables clients in their transformation journey, leveraging Capgemini’s key assets and collaboration across our Group.

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