As we (cautiously) look beyond Covid-19, campuses are re-opening globally. Yet the student foot traffic for many in Australia is lower than expected. Unlike the US or UK, our campuses aren’t embedded in university towns with students living on or near campus.  So how do we get students back?

Low lecture attendance doesn’t mean low campus attendance

After years lamenting dwindling lecture attendance, Covid-19 accelerated the delivery of on-line learning, which is now being adopted by many institutions as a permanent offer.  The adoption of digital strategies should not go without recognising that students derive value from the physical campus in many ways. Whilst the lecture theatre may have been emptying for years, the rest of the campus was not!

Online learning will require more study spaces on campus

A campus trend we have observing globally is growth in demand for informal study space. Why are libraries full to the brim? Students want flexibility in how they learn: alone at a secluded desk; alone together at large tables; group work with a white board; casually catching up with friends over coffee; late night sessions after work.

Being around other people provides human connection and group motivation, even if students aren’t conversing.

A variety of well-designed (and programmed) informal spaces will become a key attractor for students. They might not attend a lecture in person, but can sit on campus watching content online.

Do you know the pain points that drive students away?

We need to work towards a more seamless student experience and understand pain points across the student day.

For example, many students commute to our campuses which can be a significant time drain. If classes are timetabled around rush hour with limited parking or public transport, they are less likely to attend. If students get to campus and can’t charge their laptop, there are no seats in the library or the wifi doesn’t work, they leave. On a deeper level, if they don’t feel a sense of belonging – they are less likely to show up.

Importantly, one size does not fit all.

Postgraduates were less affected by Covid-19’s impact, and online learning creates opportunity for those who can’t attend a campus.  But let’s not go “all in” on digital, and forget about the human connection the campus provides.

Dr Samantha Hall

Principal Director, Campus Intuition

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @_SamanthaHall

Samantha researches human experience within physical environments, and specialises in campuses

Samantha Hall will be speaking at CMM’s Conference Reimagining the lives of the lectured

October 19 – October 21, 2021



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