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A university challenge

Helping Northumbria Uni improve the student experience

When Deloitte was brought in to be Northumbria University’s transformation partner, it helped to propel the popular institution into a whole new league… and save quite a bit of money.

With 27,000 students and three campuses, two in Newcastle and another in London, Northumbria is one of the largest higher education providers in the UK.

Last year, it jumped 20 places in the Guardian University League Table to secure 48th position, its best-ever ranking. And a major factor has been the range of new services designed by our consultants, working side-by-side with the people who use them – the students themselves.

At your service

In the highly competitive world of higher education, Northumbria wanted to attract and retain the brightest and the best, which meant improving their day-to-day experience. While quality was top of the wish list, it also needed more efficient processes, so it could stretch its resources further.

Our consultants were on campus, working with Northumbria’s Student and Library Services, IT, HR, Estates and Facilities staff plus four students seconded to the project. This blended approach fostered strong, trusting relationships and side-stepped any potential ‘them and us’ friction.

Students were clear on what they wanted – good, easy-to-use support services. And because it was their vision, they tested all new designs, with more than 500 providing feedback.

“Deloitte were fantastic and integrated themselves fully, bringing with them a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience,” says Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Francis. “The combination of Deloitte and Northumbria staff and students proved to be incredibly powerful and insightful, the results of which can be seen across the university today.”

The project team redefined Northumbria’s operating model, creating a new Student and Library Services directorate. This allowed more than 200 staff to focus more of their time on their professional skills, rather than everyday administrative tasks.

Three support centres offering face-to-face assistance – one for each campus – were set up to manage more than 115,000 student enquiries a year. Previously, there had been 14 different contact points.

Thirty processes were revamped, and multiple online systems were replaced with a single self-service portal for students that’s easy to use, especially on mobile devices. Alongside this, a CRM (a customer relationship management tool) was implemented for staff to effectively track student enquiries and triage when necessary.

“At the core of our relationship with Deloitte is an incredibly strong partnership built on mutual trust and respect, and of which we at Northumbria University are very proud.”

Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Northumbria University

Part of the family

The programme marked a shift in culture for Northumbria as, students expectations shifted in line with rising fees – the new approach gives them what they want, when they want it, via the channels they use most. It has also shaved £1 million annually off the university’s operating costs.

Mark Gill, Northumbria’s Commercial Director, adds: “We were looking for partners who would be on the journey with us and take a real interest in the success of the university – Deloitte went the extra mile.

“They brought with them a real focus on the student experience and placed the student at the centre of our work. Deloitte were certainly part of the Northumbria family and we would welcome the opportunity to work with them again.”

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Jessica Dodds

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+44 (0)20 7303 8279

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