Engaging with Gen Z in HE

It’s astounding to think how much the student population can change in one academic year based on the year the student was born and the generation they fit into – altering student experience and expectations entirely.

The thing about Gen Z is…

Aside from never knowing the sound of the internet dialling up and hearing the greetings from AOL when you log in, the difference between and experiences of Gen Z and Millennials are quite vast.

Nowadays, the majority of students currently in higher education are digitally native Gen Zs, differing greatly from the Millennials that came just five years before them, who had, from personal experience, simpler expectations.

Their greater expectations

As the generation that has grown up with delivery-on-demand becoming the norm, it’s only fitting to say that Gen Z is focused on outcomes and deliverables when it comes to higher education – and there’s data to support that.

Research published by Pearson in 2018 as more and more members of Gen Z entered higher education found that two-thirds of Gen Z say their goal in life is to make it to the top of their profession, with a further 67% stating that higher education ‘is an important stepping-stone for future success.’

With almost three-quarters of the classes of 2022 and 2023 (73%) stating they believed their higher education experience was worth the cost, how can we keep them engaged?

Give them options

Edtech is booming, and it’s one of the best ways to engage Gen Z with their education.

Pearson’s research proved something many knew to be true which is that as digital natives, Gen Z uses more social media, spends more time with online visual and video media, and are more likely to share content through social channels.

This suggests that, if this is how Gen Z choose to spend their time, providing edtech in a similar format could help to engage them. This can be achieved by providing learning content different formats, such as interactive eTextbooks, videos, and audio files to ensure the content speaks to them in a way that is natural to them.

In addition to different format options for their learning content, Gen Z could also benefit from different content.

As a more diverse generation, Gen Z value diversity and equality. Ensuring that there’s an array of content meeting EDI needs is important – not only to Gen Z students but also to those in generations to come – giving a well-rounded education to all.

Give them value

Higher education institutions are in a unique position to be catalysts for real and lasting change through the way they display and instil they values in their students.

A thought piece from Professor Joy Carter, CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester published in August 2020 shared that the values of an institution were significant drivers in student choice between universities. Are the values which attracted the students to your university ringing true when they arrive?

Speaking of value, recent findings published by Salesforce show that due to inflation Gen Z spending is down 30%. As a higher education institution, you should ensure that Gen Z students have sufficient access to their essential learning materials if they’re unable to purchase them themselves, which is more likely today due to the student cost of living crisis.

Give them support

Students of today are getting a bad reputation for being the ‘snowflake generation’, which in my opinion, is untrue entirely. After all, seeking help is a strength not a weakness.

Providing help and support to students such as access to their learning resources, information about financial hardship funds and mental health support is more important than ever. Students face many issues in the modern world, with the burdens of the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, and competition for graduate opportunities to name just a few.

Give them tech

Gen Z are digitally native; the way that they’re educated needs to be intuitive to them, which is where Kortext enters the chat.

Kortext’s world-leading Arcturus study platform gives students the power to curate their own, personalised, digital bookshelf and access their eTextbooks anytime, anywhere and on any device, even offline.

Our platform offers students a whole host of interactive study tools at their fingertips, so reading becomes a whole new and engaging experience.

In addition to learning tools, taking into account the record numbers of students seeking support for mental health, we have integrated a direct link to Student Minds’ Student Space in our smart platform, meaning students can access support and advice when they need it most.

To find out more about how Kortext can help you engage Gen Z, tap here.


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