As colleges and universities look for ways to woo students with compelling experiences, higher ed leaders need to look no further than the devices students are never without: their smartphones.

From making payments to opening doors, ordering meals and reserving equipment, students increasingly expect their college experience to mirror the ease, speed and personalization they enjoy from retailers and media platforms. In response, forward-thinking institutions are catering to those expectations.

Driving engagement with fingertip access, instant gratification

Those rock-climbing walls that were all the rage a decade ago don’t impress Gen Z students, industry observers say. Think services instead. While students still want to socialize and build community in person, they largely favor virtual delivery in situations where convenience and privacy are a priority, such as for administrative support interactions, Accenture reports.

To that end, streamlined processes and anytime/anywhere access are important components in meeting the needs of students accustomed to the immediacy of a tech-enabled world. Smartphones are a no-brainer starting point. “Higher ed institutions must use mobile technology,” argues Matthew Alex, founder of Beyond Academics, a firm that advises higher ed leaders on transformation strategies and student lifecycle optimization. “You have to become more flexible,” he adds, “and you can’t be time-boxed.”

Mobile use cases grow, on and off campus

In March 2022, TouchNet and Industry Dive surveyed 150 higher education leaders on how they’re using a familiar campus technology — ID management — to spawn a rich menu of mobile capabilities.

Adding new capabilities

Regardless of budget, enhancing mobile experiences starts with making the most of existing resources. As survey feedback indicates, many institutions have found ID management technology to be a flexible and budget-friendly way to score quick wins in mobile access. With that in mind, McDonald advises institutions to start integrating technologies they own today and to add new capabilities as resources allow and needs evolve.

Read the full article about mobile technology in higher education at Higher Education Dive.