With new data showing an average of a 2.5 percent dip in undergraduate attendance in the Fall semester and international undergraduate enrollment down 11 percent, colleges across the U.S. are struggling to maintain revenues needed to keep their schools running properly. 

As we have seen throughout the past few months, technology has become the unsung hero of the pandemic. It has helped keep employees safe as businesses transitioned to remote working arrangements. It has helped stores stay in business by creating alternate shopping experiences. It has even helped foster connections when stay-at-home orders were in place. For universities and colleges, higher education technology can also be implemented to help increase enrollments. It may seem counter-intuitive, but investing in technology solutions now will help them prepare for the long-term effects of the pandemic.

Allowing for Physical Distancing

Line ups. Shopping. Restaurants. Every aspect of life has now been changed to allow for physical distancing. With the virus easily transmittable through close contact, staying safely apart from others can help to mitigate the spread. Ensuring that physical distancing is possible in all aspects of the college experience will help students and staff feel safe, which may encourage them to return to campus.

Unfortunately, cafeterias, libraries and student services all attract crowds. This means that the experience needs to change to facilitate physical distancing. Luckily, higher education technology solutions have emerged to help these areas of the college experience continue to thrive. One method that has been implemented in colleges across the U.S. is virtual queue management software. Using these systems, students can line up for the service they require–whether food, library access or student services–from their personal device. While waiting, they can be wherever they want–in their car, dorm room or outside–and they will receive updates about their place in the line and their wait time. They’ll be notified when it’s their turn to access the service, allowing them to safely enter without crowds. These services can also help to manage the number of people in a space at a time, ensuring that capacity limit regulations are met.

Creating Alternate Learning Experiences

With international enrollments dropping dramatically and impacts on international travel still largely unknown, colleges and universities will need to find new ways to attract international students, or even commuter students. An easy way to increase college enrollment is to leverage higher education technology to create alternate learning experiences.

Online classes have been offered at colleges and universities for a long time, yet the choices remain limited. By expanding the choices available online, educational institutions can attract more students into their programs. They can also use higher education technology to facilitate one-on-one learning, such as office hours with teachers and professors. Video calling and video callback queues can be used to help students scheduled one-on-one time. It also creates a more personalized experience, instead of simply using the phone. Using video callback queues also allows for increased student satisfaction, as they don’t have to wait online for their appointment. After getting in line, they can hang up and wait while studying and doing assignments. When the professor is ready to virtually see them, they’ll receive a video callback.

The Future of Higher Education Technology

Although it’s impossible to know what impacts the virus will have long-term, there is no doubt that some of the changes we’ve become accustomed to will become permanent. Although we’ve already become increasingly reliant on technology–using it to power our interactions, work and everyday lives–it will likely begin to seep into more aspects of our lives. By investing in higher education technology now, universities and colleges can help students and staff feel more comfortable about returning to campuses. In turn, these social distancing ideas can help to increase college enrollment and raise their revenues.