Edinburgh’s app boosts student services

A new app is driving increased engagement and better connecting students at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has been working with international mobile event app provider Guidebook to deliver a mobile app that would improve pre-arrival communication and act as a central repository for all central University, individual College and School and Student Association event information. 

The investment in Guidebook is part of a strategic, three-year ‘Student Experience Project’ that aims to understand and enhance the student experience, and ultimately increase students’ engagement, and their sense of association with the University during their studies and as life-long alumni. 

Kristin Hunger, Student Induction Coordinator with the Student Experience Project, explained: “Prior to Guidebook, information was sent to students through a variety of methods, from a number of different offices and departments. The information would include general ‘getting started’ guides, checklists, and details of events – some of which would be compulsory academic events, whilst others would be optional, more informal events. Students would also get this information in the post prior to arrival, via email, and would also be directed to the New Student website. 

“As part of the Student Experience Project, we had surveyed student reactions to these pre-arrival communications. This indicated clearly that students were feeling overwhelmed about the different sources of information. Our goal therefore was to provide a mobile resource that could act as a central repository for event information.” 

Having been introduced to Guidebook at a professional conference in November 2013, the Student Induction team started to recognise the potential of the mobile app.

“The system had to be strong enough to be used by 12,000 new students in addition to staff. It also had to be user-friendly and intuitive so users could navigate and search the 800+ events that happened during Freshers’ Week. Guidebook was the only app out there that we could find with the proven ability, and capability, to deliver what we needed,” Kristin adds.

From its central platform, Guidebook has built and helped deliver mobile apps for three Open Days for prospective students, run by the University’s Student Recruitment and Admissions (SRA) office, as well as the ‘Welcome to Edinburgh’ guide for Freshers’ Week, used for the first time with this year’s student intake including undergraduates, postgraduate, taught and research students. And the results have been impressive: the ‘Welcome to Edinburgh’ guide received 8,083 downloads, while the June Open Day was downloaded 1,624 times and the September Open Day 3,013 times. 

“Feedback from staff and students alike has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Kristin. ‘As we’ve promoted the different guides and the concept of the app, staff have increasingly welcomed the opportunity to direct prospective and new students to it as a single, central source of information. And from our perspective, seeing students walking around during the different events using their mobiles to help orient themselves, has proven the value of the App.”