Why is data analytics important in higher education?

Australian universities are embarking on a digital strategy transformation journey.

The higher education sector has lagged behind other industries in becoming data-driven. But university leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of data modernisation as a driver of institutional success. Many higher education institutions have found that enhancing their digital strategy can positively impact student enrolment, student engagement, staff retention as well as overall productivity.

Technology transformation to overcome disparate data

Universities are homes to vast troves of data, which describe everything from student experience to staffing engagements to overall economic performance, and more. In many Australian universities, this information is spread across multiple standalone or legacy systems, stored in incompatible formats or at times in spreadsheets. This was the case at La Trobe University, an entrenched member of the world’s top 300 universities whose 2,800 staff service the education needs of more than 35,000 students.

The technology transformation needed to focus on untangling the complexity of the legacy systems, so that the new technology stack can be properly implemented.

Business intelligence for better decision-making

The University’s management wanted to enhance La Trobe’s student recruitment program, elevate staff hiring and improve student retention. A 10-year agenda was established including a digital and technology strategy, which recognised the importance of data to the University’s future.

The University desired a solution with Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to enable more effective and efficient decision-making.

KPMG was engaged to help architect a solution. After a successful proof of concept, KPMG assisted the University in delivering a Microsoft Azure-based data architecture and platform that is ready for the future, has modern capabilities and is now in use. Subsequent to the planning stage, the project took twelve months to complete, with expedited delivery of a production-ready landing zone and analytics platform, which was delivered in twelve weeks.

The new data platform supplies powerful metrics which make it possible to quickly improve business outcomes such as student retention.

Through data centralisation, La Trobe is empowering its staff and educators to identify and address the underlying issues for students at risk.


In KPMG’s third webinar in our Future of Higher Education series, we spoke to the CIO and the Director of Data & Analytics and explored their drivers for change, approaches to data management and digital initiatives to progress La Trobe’s digital and student success agenda.

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