4 minute read

Driving Innovation within the Higher Ed Community

1/17/2023 8:00 PM

Lauren Ipsen, CEO of Ellucian, sheds light on the topic of innovation as she joins the FOCUS podcast to discuss supporting student success and how partnerships throughout the higher ed tech community have become the driving forces toward innovation.

How Ellucian helps higher ed institutions

Ellucian is a mission-based technology company focused on creating better outcomes for institutions and transforming that into student success. They provide institutions with operating systems from administration to HR and all student systems and help maximize the success capabilities for students. Ellucian serves 3,200 customers globally, taking out the friction in campus financial processes. Ipsen believes their capabilities will, in turn, solve some of the toughest challenges in higher ed.

Supporting student success

Institutions that work to find solutions and create processes that support student success will be at the forefront of innovation. Ipsen reveals that while being a user of campus interfaces is integral in understanding the user experience, schools should focus on the software-as-a-service ( SaaS) experience too. Many institutions are still working from on-premise systems that are more difficult than cloud systems to enhance and maintain. Ellucian is transforming both the institution experience and the student experience by helping institutions transition to a SaaS model with technology solutions delivered through the cloud. This newer approach allows teams to hone in on financial data, financial aid, and make sure transactions are PCI compliant and friction-free so students can make better decisions.

At the core of student success, Ipsen believes that financial success, mental health, and community all need to come together on a platform level to help keep students enrolled. The majority of students who drop out of higher education do so because of financial or mental health issues. If schools work to simplify and reduce stressors in students’ lives, they will be able to focus on the bigger picture of their education. Ipsen is driven to help campuses provide new opportunities to make the student experience better on- and off-campus. One opportunity to aid students is to expand AI advising, so all students can access academic support whenever they need it.

When it comes to enrollment, Ipsen suggests that schools also look at retention data rather than just new enrollees. To keep retention up, explore payment plans that can be flexible for students. Then, if they go through issues with financial aid, mental health, or physical health, students do not need to worry as much about the burden of paying their bill. The most important thing is to implement support that will bring back students who have dropped out, which will raise retention while helping students in need.

Better together

In the last few years, institutions have seen how beneficial the right technology can be for them. Technology is quickly becoming thought of as part of “the staff,” with AI and more integrations creating a new digital transformation toward the Cloud. But even though technology is ever-expanding and infiltrating the higher ed space, we must not forget the valuable roles humans play. Schools need to understand how business processes and roles are going to change with new tech and how they can make sure they have the right staff in the right places.

For Ellucian, Ipsen says that they also had to start with their people, going from delivering best-in-class capabilities on-premises to operating through the cloud. She believes moving from on-premises to SaaS is one of the hardest things to do, but with partners like TouchNet, it can be made possible.

“There is more of an urgency now more than ever. You [have] to be resilient. It’s hard to get all the technical stuff that you need. You think tech companies are challenged [by] what institutions are dealing with, but you can’t innovate in the future unless you’re in a platform that lets you build your own future,” says Ipsen.

Tech companies and institutions have to work together in order for schools to be successful. Within that partnership, it’s also important to focus on data privacy and building in compliance with different policies and regulations. Ipsen also notes how much Ellucian values its partnership with TouchNet because of PCI compliance integrated into solutions. With the right partner, institutions can be assured their students’ data will be protected.

What’s next for Ellucian

Ipsen explains that Ellucian has brought back their user conferences, with ELive 2023 coming up soon. In these conferences, which will take place at various locations around the world, Ellucian will show the tech community how they can come together to overcome new challenges. Ipsen believes community is the higher ed and technology worlds’ superpower, and in the future focusing on creating solutions that enhance student experiences—not just that of the institution—will be the key to success.