Robotic Process Automation: Applications for Higher Education


Robotic Process Automation: Applications for Higher Education

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is being leveraged more and more in higher education to enhance and streamline sophisticated administrative operations in times when costs are growing and revenue is decreasing. RPA is designed to execute rules-based tasks that have historically been performed by employees. The ability of RPA to reliably perform high-volume tasks without requiring any human intervention makes it the perfect tool for increasing efficiency and streamlining processes.

Every department of every college and university has the need to perform high-volume processes, repetitive tasks, digital processes, tasks with multiple steps, and tasks that require multiple systems or interfaces. Some of the common areas that RPA can support include Admissions, Audit/Finance, Human Resources, Procurement, Academics, Student Services, Athletics, and Information Technology.

The implementation of RPA provides numerous benefits to higher education institutions, including improved student and staff experience, error reduction, more efficient use of labor hours, cost savings, improved job quality for faculty and staff, and streamlined communication with students and alumni.

RPA in the Back Office

Automating back-office functions frees up an institution’s staff to focus on high-value tasks that require critical decision-making. Exceptional opportunities for RPA to support back-office functions of colleges and universities include:

  • Invoicing and reconciliation
  • Payroll management
  • Expense reporting
  • Leave and travel approval
  • Financial reporting (monthly and end-of-year)
  • Credit card reconciliation
  • Auditing and SOX compliance
  • Vendor management

RPA for Student-Facing Interactions

RPA is not just for back-office functions; the use of RPA for student-facing interactions is growing. Colleges and universities are applying RPA to such student-facing operations as:

  • Course scheduling and add/drop
  • Scholarship management
  • Financial aid management
  • Research support
  • Student Services
  • Career Services
  • Course/exam scheduling
  • Student communications
  • Reconciliation of student coursework with graduation requirements
  • Assignment grading
  • Attendance management
  • Equipment and room reservation
  • Transcript processing
  • Query response
  • Healthcare and counseling management
  • Admission processing

RPA for IT Support

The Information Technology departments of higher education institutions offer unique challenges due to the need for processes to execute over multiple platforms using a variety of technologies, along with the need to manage a vast range of physical and virtual resources. In addition, IT departments often use a wide variety of tools from multiple vendors, and frequently, data cannot be exchanged between them very easily. RPA can bridge the gap between these tools and legacy systems. Some of the specialized IT functions bots can support at colleges and universities include:

  • Managing support tickets
  • Maintaining/upgrading and testing applications
  • Simplifying cloud migrations
  • Handling common security alerts
  • Managing access

Bots can perform these functions quickly and efficiently, freeing up IT staff hours for value-add activities.

Implementing RPA at a higher education institution can drive cost savings ranging from about 25 to 60 percent, in addition to providing other benefits. At a time when colleges and universities  are seeing a slowdown in enrollment and a tightening of donations, implementing RPA helps lower costs for both institutions and their stakeholders.

Is your higher education institution ripe for automation? Contact Synch-Solutions today to get started on your automation journey!