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Student Communications: a priority for UBC

27 Apr

University of British Columbia (UBC) students said, “STOP over-communicating to me! You’re impersonal, irrelevant and redundant!” Fair enough too, their inboxes are overloaded with up to 100 emails each week from their faculty, department, professors, student services … that random thing they signed up for in first year.

Students not only want to customise what they receive, they want information when they need it, they want more videos and photos, and they want them in the channels they use. What does Student Communications Services say? Challenge accepted.

It’s a transformative time for student services at UBC. It’s going to be a journey with challenges, successes and surprises and I can’t wait to take you along for the ride. First, how did we get here?

Out with the old

You’re a newly admitted UBC student. This new world is different, but not always exciting. You’re navigating a massive campus, walking into lectures not knowing any one, getting a handle on dates, deadlines and new routines.

You’re wrapping your head around how you’re going to survive the next four years at UBC while being bounced around from one office to another. You don’t understand why academic advising is separate to financial advising and why career advising is separate to study abroad. We’re going to fix that.

In with the new

UBC is improving new undergraduate experiences with the Academic Success In Student Transition (ASIST) Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) project  – wow, what a mouthful, thank goodness we love acronyms in this business.

From prospective, to admitted, to registered, we hope to make things simpler for students. This includes the consolidated application and the Learning Plan.

All new undergraduate students at UBC Vancouver will be assigned an Enrolment Services Professional (ESP) as part of the Names Not Numbers (N3) project. In this new service model the ESP will be equipped to answer oodles of questions, ranging from tuition and financial planning, scholarship eligibility, and registration. More about this project in another post, I promise.

We’re in this together

UBC’s Enrolment Services and Student Development & Services units are working together to improve the value and effectiveness of communications with students – throughout their entire student life cycle.

My team is developing unit-specific communication plans, such as Student Health Services and Career Services, and incorporating them into one central plan for all of student services.

We’ll meet students’ basic information needs, plus deliver a series of integrated campaigns across multiple channels to increase awareness and adoption of programs and services.

If that doesn’t seem ambitious enough, we’re busy redeveloping students.ubc.ca using responsive design. This means overhauling the content of all student services microsites and migrating it over to one home.

Information will be presented according to student interests and no longer in the organisational structure of units. Breakthrough.

Naturally, a total revision to the way we communicate with current students includes reevaluating our social media channels … all of them. That’s where I come in. Curious to know how it all turns out? Watch this space.

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