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9 things that every student needs according to research

What do you hope to get out of your university experience? For many students, there can be a lot of surprises when the reality of life at university starts to kick in. But there are some things which all students across the board demand, according to new research.
After speaking to students, researchers identified 9 essential needs that every student has at uni. Which of them apply to you?

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1. Skills for today’s world

What are the skills that you really need today to find a career? Obviously, they are different to the skills that people needed even 10 years ago. Personal branding, technology literacy, negotiating and citizenship are just some of 26 key skills that were identified in the study. Are you learning these key life skills at university?

2. Mentorship – a helping hand

Going it alone is not recommended for any student. Whether it’s your personal tutor, an older student, or even a friend that you trust and look up to - we all need guidance sometimes. Researchers suggest that in the coming years, mentoring at university can even be provided in part by AI-based avatars, to make sure that no one misses out. Who’s your mentor?

3. Real-time feedback – on all areas of life

Knowing about how you are progressing after making the big move to uni is vital, and it’s not just about your academic scores. Figures about your health, your reputation on social media, how you are doing in extra-curricular areas like sport or gaming can complement your studies as part of a ‘lifelog’. What are you doing every day that gives you a measure of your all-round experience of university life?

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4. Frameworks and advice for new situations

Being at uni can put you in new situations where you might feel awkward, or unsure how to act. When and where is it not OK to use a mobile phone? How do I respond if I’m put into an uncomfortable situation over trying to cope with a heavy workload? Universities are offering more support in these kinds of areas. What kind of matters would you want support or counselling in?

5. Credentials – stuff to make you stand out

You’ll want to stand out from the crowd when you look for a job, but you can start to do that when you’re at uni. There are many things that show what makes you unique, like life skills, voluntary work and citizenship that can be compared with other people. They are as much a part of you as your exam scores – so what is it that makes you unique?

6. Experiences – job placements and exchange programmes

Having real world experiences on your CV will really help to give you an edge when it comes to job hunting. Universities are starting to offer these, and the research shows that work placements or exchange programmes with other unis are meeting the needs of students. What kind of real world experiences would you want at university?

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7. Personalized instruction – catering just for you

There’s more of a focus on learning that suits the individual, and universities are changing what they offer to help you study in a way that works for you. And there’s evidence that this will help you after education, as some companies are now customizing what they do for each worker to get the best from them.

8. Physical and virtual learning spaces and tools

Teaching and learning is moving away from the physical classroom or the library. Instead, you’re increasingly likely to be learning online and in the virtual world at university. Your university will offer you better tools and places to go online to help you with this. You’ll have more say in what and how you learn, so what kind of tools will you need to have at your fingertips?

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9. Differentiation – an understanding of yourself

Your progress through university can be monitored and made available like never before via digital technology. But this can help you project a true picture of yourself and show what makes you unique to the world after education. There’s more to your value beyond results and measurable data, and more than ever the tools are there for you at uni to show that.

Want to read the original research? “Nine emerging student needs” is published in On the Horizon.

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