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Impact of COVID-19: Tune In To Student Sentiments

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Listening to the wants, needs, and intentions of students and parents allows institutions to make more informed decisions in these uncertain times.

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Impact of COVID-19: Tune In To Student Sentiments

  1. 1. Outmaneuver uncertainty NOW NEXT Fall Refresh October 2020 Tune in to student sentiments Impact of COVID-19:
  2. 2. Listening to the wants, needs, and intentions of students and parents allows institutions to make more informed decisions in these uncertain times. Accenture analyzed 80M+ posts from 27M+ unique authors from public facing digital and social media platforms with open text API across large (>15,000 students), 4-year institutions with a mix of public and private non-profits in the U.S. We looked at posts from Feb–Sept 2019 and Feb– Sept 2020 in order to compare trends across years. What we did Our first report on this topic was published in June 2020. This is a refreshed version focusing on sentiments from the start of the school year.
  3. 3. After the distraction of the crisis in spring, discussion about higher ed has never been higher Higher Education post volume is up y.o.y. in summer compared to the spring dip Decrease from Spring 2019-20 Increase from Summer 2019-20 19% 58% Proportion of health and safety conversations have gone down as the student experience topic takes over ‘20 Spring ’20 Summer ’19 Summer 40% 30% 17% 10%3% 25% 34% 13% 12%10% 6% 13% 42% 11% 17%14% 3% Health and Safety Planning for the Future Experience Education Financial Concerns Other Conversations of prospective students are still lower than years past
  4. 4. Financial concerns have been deprioritized by all except faculty, who are now concerned about layoffs Students Parents FacultyProspective Current Experience (+1) Will I ever get the ”normal” college experience? Education (+1) Which institution is best under current circumstances? Safety (+1) Will school be safe by the time I attend? Finances (-3) Can I still afford to enroll? Experience (-) What’s the impact to my events, programs and athletics? Safety (+2) How can I navigate the safety guidelines? Education (-) Is online learning as valuable as on-campus? Finances (-2) What’s the impact to my tuition and financial aid? Education (+1) Will my child still receive a valuable education and degree? Safety (+1) Is it safe to send my child back to campus? Experience (+1) Will my child miss out on certain programs and events? Finances (-3) Can I still afford to send my child to college? Safety (-) Is it safe to bring students/ professors back into the classroom? Education (-) Will online learning work / will I get proper training? Finances (+1) Will my job/salary be affected? Experience (-1) How will experiences change based on new revenue models? Orderofprioritybasedonvolume Note: Number in parentheses indicates change in rank from Spring 2020 to Summer/Fall 2020
  5. 5. Students, parents and faculty are growing increasingly weary with the situation After a relatively positive spring, the summer brought a large uptick in negative reaction to higher education Negative emotions expressed included helplessness, sadness, anger, and fear Increase posts of negative emotions from Summer 2019-20 70% -1pp -2pp -1pp 5pp +2pp -2pp Negative Positive Neutral Percentage point change in proportion of posts for each sentiment, year over year Spring ’20 vs. ’19 Summer ’20 vs. ’19
  6. 6. Emotional posting was driven by the political climate and COVID issues Anger Fear Helplessness Concern Political climate concerns Concerns from the right: • Conservative students facing criticism or even violence for being Trump supporters • Colleges radicalizing students • Racism on social media leading to rescinding of admissions Concerns from the left: • Rumors of potential voter suppression on campus • Perceived racial bias in enforcement of policies • Police violence on college students COVID Concerns • Safety on campus: schools open despite COVID, unsafe dorms and campuses, students throwing house parties amid the pandemic • Student experience: possibility of no college football seasons, students missing the college environment, colleges bringing people back to campus just so they can be alone in their dorms taking online classes is “cruel” • Value for money of the degree: Universities getting tax breaks/support, but keeping tuition high despite online learning
  7. 7. Students experienced turmoil as they returned to campus Virtual Administrative Activities 1 2 3 4 5 • Confusion at the process, e.g. registering classes • Delight at effective tools for online mental health services and student success • Confusion over program format on financial aid or visa eligibility (e.g. GI Bill) Clubs and Activities • Concerned that activities besides sports would be cancelled—but mostly events became smaller or virtual • Parties on campus brought anger— both for the university reaction as well as for the students holding the parties Sports • Support for the College Athletes Bill of Rights • Helplessness at the constantly evolving situation of college sports Social Justice and Equity • Students rallying around the black community, DACA, and undocumented students • Discussion around topical headlines, e.g. CA Prop 209 affirmative action ban, schools going test optional after criticism of ACT/SAT biases • Low income students at a disadvantage for accessing distance learning and internet Career Services, Job and Interviews • Prospective students indicate they are making decision where and whether to attend college based on career goals and interests
  8. 8. Despite this, common back-to-school measures were largely supported by students Testing Requirements Signing Codes of Conduct/Self-Attestation Reconfigured housing/dining Modified semester calendar Tuition/room & board discounts Modified classroom spaces/delivery Effective safety precaution Overly restrictive Effective safety precaution Overly restrictive Effective safety precaution Overly restrictive Effective safety precaution Overly restrictive Effective safety precaution Unnecessary Fair and appreciated Insufficient Crucial amenity for the school year Students were by and large supportive of testing, incl asymptomatic and frequency of testing Profit over safety Perceived as university trying to release itself from liability and gaining profit Creative alternative housing embraced Students appreciative of salvaging any part of the college experience Making the most of campus life changes As with alternate housing, any part of the campus experience that can be salvaged is welcomed Confusion with scheduling alternate class formats Covid-19 outbreaks on campuses creating uncertainty with last minute switch from hybrid learning to online schedules Value not reflective of educational experience Tuition value should account for exclusion of campus experience
  9. 9. Prospective students are grappling with additional anxieties during this application season 16% 36% 48% >1/3 of prospective student conversations continue to center around perceived value for money Affordability OtherValue for $ Uncertainty over the need to or ability to take ACT/SAT Virus trends in certain geographies Call for greater access at selective schools enabled by remote instruction
  10. 10. Accenture’s education offerings equip colleges and universities to thrive in a post-pandemic world Financial sustainability, operating model, modern tech Zero Based Reboot of Financial Structure • Large private research institution Shared Services • Public university system ERP and CRM Implementations • Multiple recent Safety & security Contact Tracing, Monitoring, Vaccine Tracking and Managing • Various states and counties Capacity/Density Management • Large private research institution Cybersecurity • Large private research institution Institution trust Branding and Institutional Marketing • Exclusively online institution Social Media Sentiment • Accenture’s Student Sentiment Study Academic programs & student experience Program Portfolio Reboot • Large private institution Enrollment Analytics & Recruitment Website Assessment • Private special-focus institution Digital Student Engagement Platform • Large private research institution
  11. 11. Contacts Jonathan Fry Managing Director Global Education Lead jonathan.a.fry@accenture.com Samantha Fisher Managing Director North America Education Strategy Lead samantha.fisher@accenture.com Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. We combine unmatched experience and specialized capabilities across more than 40 industries — powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. With 506,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises. Visit us at www.accenture.com/highereducation About Accenture
  12. 12. This case study will focus on college and university discussions detected in publicly available data found on social media platforms and digital platforms with searchable RSS feeds. All data was collected in accordance with each platforms’ terms of service. Public data was collected using Brandwatch to crawl mentions of colleges and universities, excluding community colleges and online for-profit institutions. Keyword filters were then applied to the conversations to isolate trends relating to pre-determined topics of interest from 2019 and 2020, in order to identify how COVID-19 has impacted various stakeholders and prospective students’ opinions and attitudes. Descriptive statistics include identifying peaks in volume over time and searching for qualitative potential explanations of online activity. We measure top mentions and co- occurring themes to gain greater qualitative insight into the nature of perceptions and concerns around higher education in the wake of COVID-19. Topics are then qualitatively analyzed to understand the nature of discourse surrounding relevant conversations. The volume and percentage of discussions within each topic are also measured. Sentiment analysis is conducted using automated scoring within Brandwatch and is considered accurate at an 85% confidence level, providing general guidance on how perceptions are shifting- rather than an exact breakdown. Audience segmentation is only available on self-reported information contained in some user’s profiles, so all audience segmentation outside of age and gender is a result of qualitative analysis and is not able to be definitively quantifiable. Methodology This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals. This document makes reference to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

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