Outsourcing Student Services

Interesting and slightly scary blog post in the Chronicle on the opportunities for outsourcing student services in US higher education. As one person interviewed puts it: “It’s almost taking the people out of it”.

Some of the wonderful products on offer include:

  • Rave Wireless lets students set cellphone timers that alert campus police if they do not arrive at their destinations. “We call it putting a blue-light telephone in everyone’s pocket,” said Robert Jones, Rave’s director of marketing.
  • University Parent produces printed guides, Web sites, and electronic newsletters for college parents.
  • Lifetopia tells colleges it will help them “put people in their place” — with a Web site where students can create profiles and select their own roommates.
  • CourseScheduler offers software to help students choose classes at hours they can handle. Otherwise “they’re just going to slap something together” — at the risk of burning out if their schedules are unmanageable, said Michael Smyers, a recent graduate of Kansas State University who founded the company.

And this is the best:

  • With Snoozester, students can request wakeup and reminder calls, such as to start studying for a test a week in advance. This product particularly frustrated some administrators. “People have just stormed away,” said Neville Mehra, the company’s chief executive. But most absences from class, he said, are a result of oversleeping.

Just what we’ve all been waiting for.

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