Challenge 7: a strategic approach

The over-arching challenge for all institutions is to join up the ways in which they already address different aspects of the student digital experience. This does not mean relying on one champion or one policy document. Students see their digital experiences as being of a piece with other aspects of their learning, and it is surely right that digital issues are integrated into a wide range of student-facing policies and roles. However, we have shown that digital technologies play a unique and expanding role in the way students relate to their institution and their courses of study. Digital capabilities will be critical to the work graduates do and to how they engage with their communities. So a strategic approach is needed to steer the multiple impacts that technology has on the student experience and outcomes.

On this page:
Key Findings
Further resources

Key findings

The digital experience is just one aspect of the overall student experience. Proposed new questions about the digital environment in the National Student Survey, and a new ‘Digital Capabilities’ theme for QAA Reviews, are evidence that this is a mainstream concern. All staff with responsibility for the student experience, including teaching staff, need support to develop their digital expertise and their professional, role-specific awareness of how digital technologies influence student outcomes.

Ownership of the ‘digital student’ agenda falls across many roles and departments. Universities need to find ways of bringing key actors together – with students – to ensure responsibility for developing the digital experience is embedded.


  1. Have a clear institutional vision for the digital university which is expressed in other strategies, e.g.: Learning, Teaching and Assessment; Research and Knowledge Transfer; IT infrastructure and support; IS/information strategy; Estates.
  2. Map how a robust digital infrastructure and holistic approach to digital capability can support other institutional priorities e.g. sustainability, inclusivity, internationalism, new modes of provision, new student markets.
  3. Ensure digital issues have a high-level champion and/or central initiative but…
  4. implement devolved planning with distributed accountability and budgets.
  5. Students and external stakeholders (business, community, other education providers) should be engaged as partners in decisions about the digital environment and in developing the digital learning experience.
  6. Clarify what the digital university offers that other educational providers can’t, and show confidence in the university offer.
  7. Put in place credible forms of recognition and reward for developing digital expertise among both staff and students.


Further resources

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