University Intranets: Improving The Employee And Student Experience

It almost goes without saying that universities are knowledge hubs. Students, lecturers, and staff come together to learn, share and collaborate. But their sheer size and complex structure can also make them an administrative and communications nightmare. Disparate systems, siloed departments, and information overload all contribute to a confusing and overwhelming experience for staff and students alike. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. This post examines how modern university intranets can improve the employee and student experience. And we also look at some best practice examples of university intranets in action.

While businesses have embraced the digital workplace wholeheartedly, universities have been surprisingly slow to jump on board. Those that have university intranets are often outdated, underused, and overloaded with information. It’s no wonder that staff and students end up using alternatives such as social media and IM to connect and communicate.

Out of necessity, teaching and learning moved online during the global pandemic. However, with the world starting to reopen, the time is ripe to re-visit the university intranet. Modern intranets provide a single, centralized platform for employees and students to connect, engage and communicate. And in the face of increasing competition from other online educators, university intranets could become a key differentiator.

This post examines how modern university intranets can improve the employee and student experience. And we also look at some best practice examples of university intranets in action.

Top 5 Benefits Of University Intranets

Just like any business, universities want to improve productivity, collaboration, and communications. And a university intranet can deliver on those objectives plus a whole lot more.  Here are the top five benefits of a university intranet.

1. Smarter Knowledge Sharing

The university intranet is the central hub for sharing knowledge. Students and staff alike can upload, share and access data from one central platform. There’s no need for multiple databases or information sources. From research papers to course information and learning materials, everyone knows the intranet is the go-to resource. Plus, the super-efficient document management system ensures users can be confident they are accessing the very latest information.

University intranets can be organized by faculties or departments, which makes for easy navigation. However, modern university intranets tend to prefer user-based navigation. Whatever the case, the advanced search function ensures anyone can source information even from outside their own faculty. Users can search by tags, authors, titles, or topics. With results filtering and previews, users can assess the relevance of results at a glance.

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2. Easier Collaboration

University intranets bring employees and students together under one virtual roof.

Staff collaborating on a joint research project can set up a project space on the university intranet. Team members use the private, secure space for brainstorming, ideation, and the sharing of insights. The open-all-hours university intranet means colleagues can collaborate across different campuses or time zones, 24/7.

Furthermore, university intranets are the perfect vehicle to collaborate with and between students.  Many universities already use MS Office or Google Workspace tools for team assignments and providing feedback. In modern university intranets, these tools are integrated for more efficient, streamlined collaboration.

3. Improved Communication

Good communication between faculties, staff, and students is critical to the university’s smooth functioning.  And the modern university intranet is a vibrant, dynamic way to communicate. Video capabilities, graphics, and rich-text editors provide endless choices, ensuring you get your message across in an engaging way.

Plus, the intranet’s universal coverage means all users receive the same communication at the right time and from any device. Make use of alerts and notifications to ensure users are updated about what’s important. Personalized options allow users to set their own preferences so they are not swamped with irrelevant alerts.

Moreover, the university intranet’s advanced user analytics provide insights into how content is consumed. You can then adjust your communications strategy in response to user trends.

4. Stay Connected

The opportunity to network and connect is what sets universities apart from other online learning providers. Meeting like-minded people, connecting, and sharing ideas and knowledge is what campus life is all about.

In the past 18 months, those opportunities have been impacted by Covid restrictions. However, the university intranet provides a virtual way to do so.

Social intranet features like staff profiles and instant messaging (IM) allow staff and students to continue making connections. These searchable profiles highlight current research projects and specialist knowledge. Colleagues and students can quickly identify people with expertise in a particular line of inquiry or study area. A quick IM using the intranet’s integrated tool means they can immediately start a conversation.

5. Streamlined Processes

Universities are just like any big organization: paperwork, form filling, and administration are essential to operations.  And a modern intranet makes routine administration a whole lot easier.

Use the university intranet’s integrated forms builder tool to create online versions of paper forms. Registration, course selection, and student onboarding can all take place online. And the intranet automatically routes the information to the correct department for action.

It’s a similar story with employees. Performance review documentation, recruitment processes, even booking vacation leave are all completed through the intranet.

Furthermore, easy-to-use permission and access control tools allow you to keep confidential information safe and secure. Users can only access appropriate content.  Site permissions plus a host of other security features such as two-way SSL encryption ensures your private data stays safe.

The five fantastic features outlined above showcase how a modern intranet improves the employee and student experience.

Let’s look at how a selection of leading universities across the globe are using their intranets to make a difference.

University Intranets: Real-World Examples

Augusta University, US

This Augusta university intranet is a combined student and staff portal. It provides gateway access to all the tools and apps staff and students could need. The homepage even features an option for a personalized user experience. Visitors can select a student or faculty staff member interface.

Popular tools and apps are highlighted in a sidebar menu alongside topic options based on campus life, academics, and resources.

The homepage makes great use of color, photos, and graphics for an all-round rich and engaging experience.

The university intranet also has a well-organized, logical information architecture for easy navigation and discoverability.

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Yale School Of Medicine, US

Part of Yale University, Yale School of Medicine has its own intranet covering many users. An ‘information for tab’ on the header directs specific users to personalized menus covering alumni, students, researchers, and staff, among others.

Furthermore, a comprehensive sidebar menu highlights common links in a readily accessible A-Z format. Everything from calendars and events to library and parking is covered.

Eye-catching photos and graphics accompany the latest news headlines. Finally, upcoming events with descriptor titles make up the rest of the university intranet’s homepage.

As with the other best practice examples we have explored, Yale School of Medicine incorporates the latest intranet design principles. The user interface incorporates plenty of white space for a clean, minimalist look. This makes it easy for the user to find information. And the search bar is clearly accessible from the header.

University Of Birmingham, UK

The UK’s University of Birmingham intranet has student-specific content alongside staff content. The bright, engaging homepage covers both audiences. The latest news and updates feature highly with separate menus for staff and students.

Also easily accessible are the top six most popular tools for both audiences. Among the choices for students are student help, digital services, and library resources. Top picks for staff include campus maps, staff directory, and the IT service portal. More detailed menus and the search function are given a high profile on the header bar.

All the best intranets strive for continuous improvement. And the University of Birmingham features an intranet feedback tool. And so users can easily share their views and offer suggestions for improvement.

 University Of Paris, France

Clean and uncluttered, the University of Paris also presents an engaging user interface. The home page uses lots of white space so that the tools and features really pop.

The homepage includes shortcuts to popular tools such as student files, electronic messaging, and library resources. The latest news and updates are also highlighted. In addition, there’s a dedicated space for alumni to stay connected with their alma mater.

University Of Sydney, Australia

The University of Sydney has taken a different approach with staff as the primary audience for the intranet.

For any intranet, the overall look and feel are critical. This has a major influence on how users engage and connect to the platform. The University of Sydney is an excellent example of how to do it. The homepage is bright, colorful and uses lots of images to grab the user’s attention.

Popular tools such as timetabling, campus assist, and Office 365 are highlighted. And the latest news headlines are readily accessible.

The homepage also has quick and easy integrated access to university system logins. And so staff have gateway access using a single login to other enterprise systems, including academic planning and development, plus research data management planning.

Cardiff University, UK

This Cardiff university intranet is a combined platform for staff and students. In this example, navigation links are very visible and are easily accessible. The focus is on high-level critical tabs.  The interface is simple and uncluttered, making for easy navigation.

Wayfinding is easy with popular tools and apps figuring prominently. Accommodation, libraries, exams, and assessments are among the top choices for students. While for staff, options include recruitment, training, and development, plus performance reviews.

information-silos

Break Down Silos With A University Intranet

As these examples demonstrate, modern university intranets help to break down departmental siloes. Traditionally, universities have used disparate channels to inform, communicate and share data. This has resulted in a fragmented and confusing experience for staff and students alike.

However, these best practice examples have deliberately moved away from a departmental structure. Instead, they have a shared focus on the student or employee experience.

The bottom line is modern university intranets offer a host of benefits:

  • Smarter knowledge sharing
  • Easier collaboration
  • Improved communications
  • More opportunities to connect
  • Streamlined workflows and business processes.

And perhaps most important of all, an enhanced user experience for staff and students. And in the face of increased competition for online education providers, this could make all the difference.

University Intranets: Easy Deployment With Intranet Templates

The good news is it’s never been easier to get your university intranet off the ground.

Pre-built intranet templates make for a swift and pain-free implementation. Easily customizable, intranet templates take all the hard work out of setting up your university intranet.  Intranet templates come pre-loaded with coding, functionality, and a basic design, reflecting current best practice. They also come with in-built page permissions, administration tools, and the latest safety features.

Furthermore, intranet templates are mobile-responsive for today’s on the go, busy lifestyles. The technology is already tried and tested and is being used by businesses across the globe.

These great features come at a very cost-competitive all-inclusive monthly fee. And you get to enjoy unlimited data storage and user numbers.

All you need to do is select the required templates and follow MyHub’s simple five-step site builder wizard. It’s as simple as that.

Are you ready to take your university intranet to the next level? Want to break down departmental silos and offer staff and students a cutting-edge user experience? Then get in touch today for a free demo or no-obligation 14-day trial.

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