Winner of the Times Higher Education University of the Year in 2015, Edge Hill University’s commitment to placing students firmly at the heart of everything is paying dividends. Using Education Software Solutions' library management system (LMS), with its student-facing discovery interface Prism, ensures students can easily access the information they need for successful studying.
From beginnings as a teacher training college founded in 1885, Edge Hill University in Lancashire is on a steep upwards trajectory.
With a thriving community of 18,000 students, it topped the list for best student experience in the North West in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey in 2016 adding to its University of the Year 2014-2015 title in the Times Higher Education Awards.
Maria Mirza, Assistant Head of Learning Services, comments: “It’s a very exciting time at our university as we’re being recognised for our innovation and student engagement. As our department [Learning Services] is the largest student support service within the university, it’s imperative that we keep step.”
To enhance the student experience, the university searched for a new provider to improve the look and feel of their library management system.
“We wanted to clearly signpost our core range of services as well as the extra things we offer, such as inter-library loans and our ‘Add a Book’ service, to make them easier for students to discover and use.
“However, our situation was complex as we had seven separate third-party systems, including finance and student registry, which needed to be integrated into the back-end.
“When we went out to tender, ESS soon stood out. They listened to our exact requirements, such as consolidating a range of different ways to request materials on the front page. They then invested time and effort into getting us exactly what we wanted, which was different to our experience with other suppliers.”
A better service
The installation went well and there were no major issues. “It was an impressive achievement given the amount of data that needed to be transferred. ESS were very responsive so we felt well supported during this massive cultural shift. They even came on-site to train staff.”
A year on from go live, the refreshed look and feel of the LMS, Prism, has brought great benefits.
“Our system is more intuitive to use, and we’ve greatly reduced the amount of clicks it takes for students to get from A to B. As a result, activity levels have risen sharply – our inter-library loan service was under-utilised but we’ve now seen a threefold increase. We’re able to visibly demonstrate our commitment to getting students the books they need.
“Feedback has shown that students haven’t needed so much instruction from staff to find material. Now, they can link to books on their reading list, see what is available, download e-books, reserve anything missing and even request that we add a book to our collection from a single sign-in on their mobile phone from their bed.”
A new auto-renewal service has proved popular, with 95% of a sample of students saying it was a positive development. “It wasn’t possible for books to be automatically renewed at the end of the loan period with our previous system.
“Now students are only charged if the book has been reserved, which has cut fines by 70%. And for any amounts still accrued, there is now an online payment facility which automatically takes a payment and removes the charge from the student’s library account in real-time.”
Time saved, service improved
The LMS has been embedded into the wider IT university landscape, creating a more seamless and joined-up process.
“All student details are now pulled through from the original source to our library system, which reduces the need for repeated data entry.
“Staff also no longer have to re-key more than 1000 yearly invoices and many systems are automatic, such as inter-library loans via the British Library or ordering books and journals from our suppliers."
Maria concludes, “Perhaps the best measure of our success is our score in The National Student Survey, which currently stands at 4.4 out of 5. This is a key performance indicator for us and our highest ever rating. It demonstrates we are undoubtedly moving in the right direction by providing a service that meets the complex demands of today’s higher education students.”