Universities are dealing with low enrollment rates, rising operating costs, and the pressure to stay innovative to attract new students. They’re facing budget cuts and flatlining student admissions, making it increasingly difficult for schools to increase operational productivity within their departments.

Savvy universities are turning to automation technologies to meet the parent and student’s expectations of “quality service”.

Some are turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—a tool that allows universities to provide better student and staff experiences, reduce costs, and automate tasks within their existing systems.

RPA Defined 

Before offering solutions to these challenges, it’s imperative for universities to understand exactly what RPA is. Robotic process automation is software that automates repetitive computer tasks. Tasks such as manually typing information copied from another source or comparing information to ensure accuracy. These tasks cut into employee productivity and prevent workers from spending time on more important tasks. That’s where RPA comes in.

RPA was ranked the fastest-growing enterprise software by Gartner last year. Not only does it have an enormous impact on employee productivity, but it’s a simple technology compared to other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain. This software allows universities to increase efficiency and avoid implementing new systems that come with a hefty price tag.

RPA Use Cases for Higher Education

1. Financial Operations

The University of Melbourne began implementing RPA within their internal operations by automating invoicing and supplier records within their finance department. These tasks were simple but still time-intensive and required employees to do repetitive work.

By implementing RPA into their financial operations, the university has increased their successful throughput rate in processing supplier details to 97%. Plus, employees in the finance department can now focus on value-added tasks as opposed to basic manual tasks.

2. Administrative Services

Administrative duties within any institution are rife with manual processes often subject to potential human error. RPA is an ideal solution to increase accuracy within administrative duties and allow employees to focus on more impactful work, thus increasing job satisfaction.

RPA gives administrative departments the ability to automate manual data entry and cross-check documents for accuracy. For example, student admissions is an internal process that can utilize RPA.

Implementing this software helps ensure the application process is efficient and accurate. RPA allows universities to process more student applications with less staff, as well as spend more time processing complex aspects of the applications. Tasks that previously took days to complete can now be done in hours with RPA software.

Aside from student admissions, this software can be used for several other operational tasks from ordering food for campus dining halls to placing book orders for student bookstores to processing refunds for students. RPA can benefit administrative operations within every branch of a university.

3. Student Assessments

RPA applies to more than just administrative services. Professors have also been able to leverage this software to help with student assessments. Before RPA, professors were spending too much time managing individual student assessment records.  

Dealing with student assessment results was a time-consuming task that distracted professors from dedicating their time to creating more impactful learning experiences for students. RPA software automates core back-end processes that make it easier and faster to organize, access, and determine student assessment results.   

This allows faculty to spend less time managing records and more time on their passion: teaching and researching within their area of expertise.  


To learn more about RPA, sign up for our RPA for Higher Education webinar series: