How can your university improve student engagement?

Posted by Daniel Barrass on March 18, 2021

In fact, the first question must be why is student engagement so important

Well, it's the lifeblood of your university. Without happy, inquisitive, thought-provoking and challenging students, a university would be a very sterile place – not conducive to learning, stifling creative thinking or crushing ambition. 


99% of students feel safe using Tribal Engage

91% feel that Tribal Engage has positively improved their work

94% of students would recommend Tribal Engage to other students


Access to information

I can get everything at one place like my timetable, attendance, exams etc. Kind of everything. I'm just in love with it... Fabulous.”

The timetable feature is extremely helpful and provides easy access to what teachers, lessons and extra revision sessions to expect for the day"

To help get you there, the importance of a rich mobile strategy cannot be overstated. The value of mobile technology is huge - giving students the freedom to interact with their institution in the way they expect. The significance of getting a student engagement strategy right for the modern student is one that cannot be ignored – intentionally or not.


What is the challenge?

Students expect to engage through channels and technologies that work for them. This is where they look for an excellent experience and effortless administrative activity – who wants the opposite?? There is always the question of social media and other apps, too; these will always remain high on any young person’s list.


I like how easy it is to get in touch with my classmates and also teachers. Its much easier than sending emails etc and I feel like people reply quicker on it as well which is good”

It's an easier and more efficient way to communicate with teachers and other students… to have an app is very useful and helpful.

I like that the university can give us quick messages that come up on my phone as notifications and aren't as official as an email."


All this is tempered, of course, by the acute need for data security and with mental health & wellbeing at front of the mind. These should be front of mind when you ask the questions like What does our online student engagement look like now? How do we know if students are cognitively engaged? How do we evaluate student engagement? How do you develop student engagement? And most importantly, how do we keep online students engaged?


What is the answer?

We know from our research that having websites and emails is not sufficient. We all know that mobile apps can no longer just be ‘add-ons’ propagating information - they need to core.

Mobile by choice

“I love that fact that I get notifications straight to my phone screen and don’t have to worry about checking online and finding out something I should do known two days ago! “

97% of students use our app at least once a week; 53% use it every day

The mobile experience needs to be of high quality. Just surfacing web pages on a mobile device is unlikely to cut it. It is not just about replicating web functionality on mobile. We need to go beyond that.

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What is the vision?

We want to see a time when the university app is the only channel students need to use for administrative and other activities. The importance of a rich, deeply integrated mobile app that provides a great experience cannot be overstated, but it needs to go further – to increase engagement and integration with the apps that matter to students


privately messaged my tutors for help in areas which I am struggling in... Our app makes college life a lot easier, especially when studying at home”

I can see if I have any deadlines and I don’t need to worry”

We also believe they should be available out of the box and deployed in days - weeks, or months for implementation or change are not acceptable.


It gives me information about where I have to be and what is happening around me and if there is something going on, I get a notification”

Getting notified about any of the events/activities is amazing and has kept me up to date with everything going on. I also enjoyed being able to easily go onto Moodle or any other links through the app" 

Entire Lifecycle

I did my enrolment through the app!”

It helped me prepare for my first day"

I was able to see what group I was in and how many students I'm studying with. I was also able to see any posts that had been put up about the first day"

You can also see the exams you have enrolled to and the exams you have taken before with the marks you have got.”

Over 92% of students found the app useful before starting a course.


The takeaways

  • Mobile should not be an add-on. It is the way you need to interact with your students
  • You can only achieve this through deep integration with your source systems
  • Aggregation apps cannot offer pre-built deep integration, and so typically take a long time to deploy and struggle to be more than add-ons
  • Easy and quick deployment gives value quickly and is essential to making it work
  • It needs to be high quality and effortless for your students; after all – it is what they want!

*All quotes are taken from our 2020 and 2022 student surveys. 

Connect the entire campus ecosystem, engaging students, staff, departments and businesses with Tribal's Engage app. Give students personalised information at their fingertips and connect, communicate and collaborate with your students securely.

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