The FINANCIAL -- ARLINGTON, VA -- A large majority of college-bound students (85 percent) said that digital capabilities, such as integration of technology into classrooms, virtual coursework and online classes are a top determinant in choosing which university to attend, according to a five-country survey by Accenture. The survey of 1,500 students in Australia, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States found the strong demand for digital capabilities carried over to students currently attending a university as well as recent graduates, with the majority (70 percent) calling for greater use of digital tools for learning and content delivery.
“Our research revealed that as universities compete to attract students, digital capabilities are a major draw,” said Ryan Oakes, who leads Accenture’s education practice. “Like successful government programs and businesses, universities need to rise to the challenge of addressing demands for digital services among current and prospective students,” Oakes added.
At the same time, most students considered alternatives before deciding to attend university, and the survey showed that the cost of attending a university was the number one reason such university-bound secondary students across the five countries – 54 percent overall – said they were considering alternatives to higher education. The concern over cost was fairly consistent across the five countries, cited by 54 percent in Australia, 48 percent in India, 53 percent in Singapore, 59 percent in the United Kingdom and 55 percent in the United States.
Most current students and recent graduates – 86 percent – rated their overall university experience as either excellent or good. Indian students were the most satisfied overall, with 92 percent saying their experience was excellent or good, followed by students in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore (cited by 90 percent, 88 percent, 82 percent and 80 percent, respectively), according to Accenture survey.
University web sites were considered the most valuable source of information for university-bound students in four of the five countries, with the exception of Australia, where a higher percentage of students rated “university visits/open houses” as the most useful information source.
“In most countries we studied, the online channel is favored by students as an information source, but we also found significant numbers of students relying on more traditional sources, including visits, open houses, guidance counselors and teachers, and friends and family. Universities must continue to leverage a variety of channels to convey their value and attractiveness to prospective students. At the same time, they must capitalize on the utility of web sites to highlight what they offer, including the digital capabilities so important to many students,” added Oakes.
While the majority of all respondents (84 percent) identified obtaining skills and knowledge for success in the job market as the main goal of a university education, three out of four respondents also said personal benefits, such as exposure to new people and new ways of thinking, were also very important, according to Accenture survey.