Higher Education institutions are operating in a sector that is now more competitive than ever before. Universities in the UK and abroad strive to attract digitally savvy students and specialist staff from around the world.
Teaching Excellence Framework gold, silver and bronze ratings will only reinforce the ongoing importance placed on education quality standards. Meanwhile, universities are expected to live within their means while maximising funding by filling places on courses, especially through clearing. On a day-to-day basis, staff and students are often moving between sites. So understanding where and how to invest in IT infrastructure has become a priority. The latest audio technology can help solve these issues—attracting staff and students, facilitating quality e-learning, and delivering returns on long-term infrastructure investments.
With the majority of public funding following the student, encouraging students onto courses is crucial to university budgets. After the initial application phase, clearing becomes the most critical time in the Higher Education calendar. Universities investing in extra staff and telephony must provide the high quality and intuitive audio devices to handle thousands of possible enquiries.
Meanwhile, students going through clearing are anxious to receive a place. They need detailed information about the courses available to them, what it is like to study at the university and what it will cost. In this context, students and university call handlers need to be able to hear and be heard during this all-important window.
Plantronics headsets are optimised to make the most of major call-handling platforms, including Unified Communications. They are also intuitive, so it is easy for new or existing university staff to connect to calls from their desk or softphones and just focus on the conversation.
Plantronics audio devices also provide access to cloud-based voice and video solutions once students are on campus. With one desktop sign-in from a range of devices, this is music to their ears. The added benefit is that there is no longer a barrier to pay-as-you-use IT services—so universities can shift from Capex to Opex on a monthly basis in line with term times.
Supporting staff collaboration
Collaboration in Higher Education has always been a cornerstone of academic success. From research projects to live lectures from overseas professors, the ability to communicate clearly remains important.
With staff often spread across buildings, sites and countries, there are physical barriers to effective collaboration. Without high-quality and accessible audio support there is a risk of missed opportunities, lack of connectivity and potentially expensive travel fees. If reduced budgets place restrictions on staff travel, institutions must find new ways to facilitate collaboration.
Plantronics has a variety of audio solutions to help universities maintain collaborative ways of working and meet the needs of faculty members. Connectivity to multiple IT platforms is standard across most of the Plantronics product range, making it easier for users to work with colleagues and students, whatever the location.
From voice and video to Instant Messaging, there are now many ways to collaborate without the need to travel. Plantronics Unified Communication devices work with multiple vendor technologies, offering seamless communication in any location. In addition, Plantronics Manager Pro provides IT departments with additional ways to make the most of the hardware, notably by integrating headsets into enterprise applications.
Improving cost efficiency
The costs of property and building maintenance continue to be a source of capital expenditure for Higher Education institutions. With advancements in IT and flexible working practices, there is now a greater opportunity to invest in remote technologies that free up physical working space and save costs.
In addition, as IT networks and infrastructure age, they require increasing amounts of time and money to maintain. The challenge for education providers is how to transform technological infrastructure without draining budgets.
There has also been a major shift in the way staff and students use technology. Once they were consumers but now they are creators, as learning across all kinds of courses becomes a more open, collaborative and hands-on activity.
Technology brings about greater opportunities to work together: producing, publishing and sharing online content with staff and other students. However, without the appropriate voice and videoe-learning facilities, this is an opportunity that can easily be missed.
Plantronics Unified Communications (UC) devices connect with UC-enabled desk phones and softphones for a fully collaborative audio experience. As learning environments change, enhanced voice and video communications allow people to interact. The superior audio experiences provided by Plantronics headsets are driving the adoption of these technologies.