Lorraine Smith, Divisional Managing Director at Civica

In every college, the back office provides the administrative backbone to the teaching and learning experiences of students.

However, lack of efficient processes can mean that more time and money is spent on administrative tasks than should be – resources which could benefit students in the classroom instead.

Although we may traditionally associate classroom technology with improving outcomes, here are three ways in which better college management can also have a positive impact in the classroom and on student health and wellbeing, by automating your college’s management processes using cloud software:

1. Streamlined financial management processes

Having more efficient financial management processes can free up budget and time that can then be spent supporting students. In particular, cloud software can help automate financial administration so that:

  • Purchasing processes are streamlined, resulting in fewer errors, queries and adjustments.
  • Cost per order is reduced with fewer people involved in the purchasing process.
  • Future income and expenditure can be more accurately predicted, helping you to allocate budget more effectively.
  • Statutory and legislative reports can be easily completed, saving time that can be diverted elsewhere across the college.

An automated financial management process can also benefit colleges which have merged or work across different campuses. As centralised purchasing is easier to manage across multiple sites, colleges can benefit from bulk-buying discounts, and finance data from multiple sites can be held in a single database which reduces time spent on re-keying data and improving the reporting process.

2. Keep your best college teachers

Retention of teaching staff is an issue faced by all colleges. The College Staff Survey 2018 highlighted that only 41% of college teachers were satisfied with opportunities to develop their career in FE, and 42% of teachers said they were likely to leave the FE sector in the next 12 months.

Implementing effective HR and payroll cloud-based technology in colleges can therefore have several benefits:

  • By taking care of training and performance monitoring, colleges can recruit the right people, track their CPD to make sure that development objectives are met and therefore increase job satisfaction and retention.
  • Reduce the need for supply teachers and existing staff can be upskilled – both of which can improve student experiences.
  • Spotting trends and patterns in staff absences allows for early intervention and can have an impact on both points above.

3. Reduced burden on admin

Comprehensive student management software can help colleges manage the entire learner journey – from enquiry and enrolment through to leaving. With a system that takes care of everything from course programming and ILR submission to timetabling and registers, colleges have a wealth of information about every student enrolled. This can help identify those students who may need additional support (academic or pastoral), and allows for early intervention.

Integrated online payments can help reduce the administrative time spent chasing arrears for course fees, trips, materials, exam resits etc. Sophisticated online systems can now accept payments in multiple ways and offer at-a-glance, self-service access to transaction history.

Communication and engagement can also be improved via the cloud, with automatic SMS and email reminders reducing the amount of visits to the office and allowing staff to focus on the tasks which have more value to student outcomes.

While EdTech tends to focus on technology which directly enhances teaching, these points are just a few ways in which technology outside the classroom can help colleges support students more effectively. Cloud software makes college management processes better, faster, and more innovative – and taking advantage of the cloud now can make it easier and more cost-effective for colleges to adopt the latest technology in the future.

With innovations in cloud, automation and mobile software happening all the time, it’s easy to see how improved college management can have a positive impact on both the workload of admin employees and the health, wellbeing and educational outcomes of students.

Lorraine Smith, Divisional Managing Director at Civica

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