Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT)

Since its founding in 1988, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has grown from four original colleges into the largest educational institution in the United Arab Emirates.

The results

  • Feedback collection from within applications

  • Improved services, retention and courses based on survey results

  • Ability to launch surveys within an hour

About Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT)

Since its founding in 1988, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has grown from four original colleges into the largest educational institution in the United Arab Emirates. Well respected for its innovative learning programs and its intensive preparation of graduates for today’s global working environment, HCT relies on Verint Enterprise Feedback Management to help drive excellence for more than 19,000 students at 17 campuses across the UAE.

HCT’s meteoric growth in locations, student population and performance is no accident. Institute leaders have long understood their success rests on the success of their students. Unwilling to leave that success to chance, HCT sought to measure every step of their students’ journeys throughout college and beyond. The goal: to ensure decisions are driven by solid data and analysis, not speculation and guesswork. By creating a culture in which student, faculty and staff performance and satisfaction are captured constantly, HCT has been able to spot problems early, make ongoing improvements throughout its system and drive continually higher standards of excellence.

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The opportunity

Prior to Verint Enterprise Feedback Management, the survey side of this effort was time consuming and cumbersome. HCT relied largely on a homegrown, NETbased program to handle the immense survey load. Though the program did the job, it had multiple problems. To input a variable and test it required three to four days. Branching required significant code re-writes. Surveys could not be run in parallel across different campus locations. And users could not go back to make changes once a survey was complete. In summary, it was not scalable or effective at supporting the expanding HCT needs.

As HCT continued to grow, so did its survey headaches. Several of the colleges in the HCT system created their own surveys and tools or modified the main .NET program. This lack of uniformity, combined with the fact that many colleges kept their own databases, made benchmarking across colleges impossible and required a full-time analyst to make sense of it all.

Khalid Tariq, Head of Enterprise Systems in HCT, knew there had to be a better way. Charged with finding the best solution, he began exploring enterprise scale products. Quickly, he determined that the free and low-cost options on the market were inadequate for HCT’s needs. “We found you could pay pennies to get surveys,” remembers Tariq. “However, they were nothing close to the enterprise feedback management solution we needed.” After further research, Tariq narrowed his options to a short list of four technologies including Verint. He and his team then generated a comprehensive evaluation form consisting of 33 feature comparisons and functionality tests, and spent six months running the various technologies through their paces. His verdict: Verint had blown away the competition.

Verint Enterprise Feedback Management administers surveys effortlessly

Verint Enterprise Feedback Management has quickly become an integral part of HCT’s push for academic and service excellence. For starters, there’s the sheer number of surveys which can now be administered effortlessly. The institute conducts several surveys a year, including entrance and exit surveys, faculty surveys, performance review surveys, course load surveys, HR surveys, surveys of companies that employ HCT graduates and more.

To ensure uniformity, all system surveys are executed from a centralized location, under the efficient coordination of Kannan Unnithan, Coordinator – Quality Systems Development in HCT’s Institutional Effectiveness division.

HCT casts a wide net to touch the highest possible number of students in its target population for each survey. Students are reached in multiple ways – via email, at conferences, in the classrooms and around campus. In fact, among the many reasons HCT chose Verint was its ability to support mobile surveys. Following its selection of Verint, the institute purchased handheld computers and often sends a squad of survey takers to connect with students in the field, boosting response rates and adding another touch point between the college and its students. “The student population is at the cutting edge of technology, and we have realized that we need to be there too if we are to keep up with their education and services needs,” remarks Unnithan.

Still, students don’t need to wait until they’re asked to offer feedback. Unnithan and his team have embedded Verint Enterprise Feedback Management into all HCT’s in-house applications. Now, when a student who is using one of those applications wants to provide feedback, he or she simply clicks a button and a form pops up on which they can share their comments. The input comes into HCT’s Institutional Effectiveness division where it is collected and evaluated. This 24/7 direct line to students enables HCT to tackle problems in near real time. “When there’s an issue with an application, we hear about it immediately from a large user base and can address the problem right away,” Unnithan observes. “We place a real value on immediate feedback and constant improvement. Verint enables us to accomplish that.”

Reduce workload significantly with Verint Enterprise Feedback Management

The results of all these surveys and data points drive critical events such as annual academic program reviews and annual reviews of administration services. Surveys also drive Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for various departments, including Student Satisfaction Rate and Graduates Employment Rate.

In addition to serving as the feedback engine for HCT’s leading edge program, Verint Enterprise Feedback Management also delivers serious efficiencies to the HCT team. The solution’s robust analytic capabilities have reduced the formerly full-time analyst’s workload significantly – a significant cost savings for HCT. Second, the time demanded to create and launch each survey has been reduced dramatically. “Today, we can create a survey, build a list and launch within an hour,” says Unnithan. “When we get a quickturn request, Verint enables us to respond where we couldn’t in the past.”

Consistency is another major advantage. Now that questions and survey appearance are standardized across colleges, there is a uniformity that binds the colleges under the HCT umbrella. More importantly, HCT can benchmark across colleges to determine its high performers, establish best practices and shore up potential problems before they escalate. With standardized questions and a centralized data store, HCT has a richer, more comprehensive understanding of its student body than it ever had before.

Finally, Verint Enterprise Feedback Management has enabled that all-important culture of continuous improvement. Based on survey feedback, HCT makes continuous adjustments to its courses, services and other aspects of the institution that clearly demonstrate to students that their input truly matters. In turn, HCT has seen improvements in satisfaction, retention, student quality and, ultimately, levels of excellence by placing the student in the center of the HCT experience.

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