Article

How are smart solutions supporting TAFE students during the cost-of-living crisis?


by Peter Nikoletatos, adjunct professor and industry general manager of education at TechnologyOne

How modern technology is supporting TAFE students during the cost-of-living crisis

We need to support our students through the cost-of-living crisis in whatever way we can – that includes embracing modern technologies – Peter Nikoletatos, TechnologyOne Industry General Manager and Adjunct Professor.

Every story in the news seems to be about the cost-of-living crisis and its flow-on effect: steep and frequent rental increases, interest rate rises, cost of food and bills going up. It feels like it is never ending, and there’s one cohort who might be feeling it the most.

TAFE students fresh out of high school who’ve had to move away from the comfort and security of their family and friends to get the education they desire are struggling. While their TAFE courses might be fee-free, the price of food, rent, petrol, clothes and all basic necessities continues to rise, leaving them feeling helpless as they try to earn money and provide for themselves while trying to achieve their dreams and goals.

With Australia ranking at number 11 out of 69 of the most expensive places to live and the inflation rate reaching 7.8 per cent by the end of December 2022, students are often faced with having to prioritise other costs over food and, even, medication.

So how can TAFEs go about fixing this – particularly when they are under inflationary and staffing pressure themselves?

When we consider the effect of the cost-of-living crisis on student retention – and what that means for TAFE’s revenue – modernising the way TAFEs communicate and interact with their students is key. It allows institutions to spot early warning signs before struggling students risk walking away from their studies – whether they are missing classes or failing to turn in assignments and allows them to offer strong support. This doesn’t replace the human element, but it enhances it and amplifies their services.

In the age of big data, collecting it is meaningless if you can’t make sense of it and turn it into an actionable insight to improve a student’s experiences. Progressive organisations recognise that digital transformation is the key to solving these challenges. Smart solutions better support the administrative and pastoral needs of TAFEs and their students. TechnologyOne’s OneEducation Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, for example, provides education leaders with real-time, holistic data-driven insights. We know that investing in smart technology and analysing the right timely data can be transformative in helping TAFEs identify and intervene when students are struggling – financially and emotionally – and ultimately helping them stay the course.

Predicting student attrition requires making sense of multiple data sources – how many terms is the student enrolled for, have they transferred to another course, have they been given a warning for failing grades, have they sought support services, are they enrolled fully online?

But in most cases, that data isn’t connected across student-related information, such as academic performance, finance, or health services. Those gaps can limit a TAFE’s ability to spot patterns or risky behaviors that, if caught early, could change the trajectory for that student.

TechnologyOne is Australia’s leading software provider in higher education, with our OneEducation SaaS solution being used by two out of every three Australian TAFEs. Since partnering with our first education customers in 1990, we have listened to the needs of the vocational sector and come up with solutions to complex problems, so we can make our customers’ and their students’ and staff’s lives simple.

We know the last few years have had a profound impact on the vocational sector, but innovation often thrives under pressure, and now is the time for tertiary institutions to be agile and embrace smart new technologies to gain an edge but also to help students going through unprecedented changes and challenges.

We are passionate about working closely with educators and tertiary institutions to provide purpose-built solutions to enable them to focus on their students’ best interests and provide younger generations with the opportunities they need to succeed and build a stronger Australia for the future.

Publish date

10 Jul 2023

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