5 ways to allocate 5G technologies in higher education

5 ways to allocate 5G technologies in higher education.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollments are approaching a concerning precipice: undergraduate enrollment fell 3.5% in 2021, far from the stabilization colleges and universities hoped to see. The 7.8% drop since 2019 represents the largest two-year decline in at least 50 years.1

As pandemic life evolved, 5G connectivity paved the way for hybrid learning infrastructure development.

Where to focus higher education 5G technology investments.

As pandemic life evolved, 5G connectivity paved the way for hybrid learning infrastructure development. In addition to providing continuity in a difficult time, 5G is also a smart investment—remote and hybrid learning programs undoubtedly give students more ways to engage in their education. But if institutions want to increase enrollment, maximize revenue, and differentiate themselves organizationally, the evolution can’t end there.

When allocating 5G-powered resources on campus, in the classroom, and across IT operations, these five areas are worth seriously considering.

1.    Marketing technology to integrate administration
Demographic shifts were underway well before the pandemic. In 2015, it was reported that 70% of students worked full-time (at least 30 hours a week) while in college.2 Students today are balancing more than ever before, and the financial burden is high.

For IT and development departments that hope to increase enrollments and retain students, 5G connectivity offers a new level of speed and reliability. From application through graduation and alumni communications, integrated operational and marketing technology systems give students, educators, and administrators confidence in the trajectory of their educational experience.

While policy solutions are needed, the implications are also complex for private and public colleges and universities. With life, work, and education blending, institutions that integrate administrative systems and tools will stand out from the first touchpoint with a prospective student. A recent Educause feature highlights how institutions like the University of Michigan-Dearborn use marketing technology—CRM platforms, student portals, social listening tools, and personalized content—to streamline enrollment management, along with student life and support services.3 The result is a straightforward process that attracts enrollees, helps students reach their goals, and enhances activities for staff.

With high-data transfer capabilities and low-latency communication, institutions can ensure interoperability between marketing technology, campus operations, and academic systems, allowing automated functions to serve the right needs using real-time data. For IT and development departments that hope to increase enrollments and retain students, 5G connectivity offers a new level of speed and reliability. From application through graduation and alumni communications, integrated operational and marketing technology systems give students, educators, and administrators confidence in the trajectory of their educational experience.

As enrollment gathers natural, post-lockdown momentum, institutions must support student needs, and that’s where 5G and AI in education play a key role.

2.    Artificial intelligence (AI) deployed at the point of need
From 2009–2019, part-time enrollment in the U.S. only fell by 1%.4 In even better news, graduate enrollment has grown 2.1%, maintaining the 2.7% upward trend from the fall of 2020.5

As enrollment gathers natural, post-lockdown momentum, institutions must support student needs, and that’s where 5G and AI in education play a key role. With technology advancements, undergraduate and graduate educators can lend precise student support, giving colleges the ability to reach students "at the point of need."6 AI can analyze data and activity on student systems like Blackboard to pinpoint patterns and recommend adjustments. It can also suggest individual projects for students based on their schedules and interests. With their ability to handle massive amounts of data, 5G networks power AI so that institutions can improve retention and course success rates more efficiently.

3.    Extended reality (XR) for immersive learning
Remote learning and the 5G expansion have supercharged tools that merge the physical and digital worlds. While XR isn't a brand-new technology in education, the pandemic accelerated adoption—rather than just a classroom enhancement, XR became the classroom for some.7 And going forward, the possibilities are only bounded by imagination.

Imagine archaeology students virtually traveling to the Shallalat Gardens and watching professionals hunt for the tomb of Alexander the Great. Or nuclear engineering students virtually entering and managing a reactor. With 5G, these experiences are possible today. Fisk University recently opened a virtual cadaver lab created in collaboration with T-Mobile, HTC Vive, and VictoryXR.8 The lab allows students to virtually explore the human body, examining the details of skeletal, muscle, and organ systems.

With ultra-low latency, 5G is uniquely positioned to enable XR in the classroom. Other mobility solutions often rely on compression to deliver high-definition streams—a result that falls short of a consistent, immersive experience. Critically, lags in data transmission from user actions to in-app displays can create motion sickness.9

Once implemented, 5G provides the dual benefit of faster speeds and mobility, putting an IoT-rich smart campus within reach.

4.    More Internet of Things (IoT) devices for smart campuses
Today, 4G provides extensive service and Wi-Fi 6 offers indoor coverage. Still, there are compelling reasons to allocate resources in 5G campus-wide private networks. Once implemented, 5G provides the dual benefit of faster speeds and mobility, putting an IoT-rich smart campus within reach.

Think autonomous passenger vehicles, drone and robot delivery services, and integrated security and building resource management systems. The University of Kansas is exploring how 5G technology in higher education creates opportunities on college and corporate campuses. These efforts are accelerating the evolution of teaching and vocational training, campus safety and building enhancements with Internet of Things (IoT), seamless in-building and outdoor connectivity, and automated transportation, to name just a few.10

5.    Online programs to expand the institutional ecosystem and student pipeline
Broad 5G coverage is powering an ever-expanding number of online and hybrid learning programs, enabling university lab and study groups to convene and communicate in video-rich environments. It also ensures rural areas and underserved communities get equal educational opportunities.

Reliable 5G coverage means that students, faculty, and staff can connect virtually anywhere learning happens.

Some institutions are reaching beyond the undergraduate pool with hybrid learning opportunities. With their newly formed Digital Education Office, Stanford is using online education to expand its community of learners—a computer science pilot program is rolling out across 15 high schools where at least 40% of students are from low-income families.11 Other colleges are exploring private partnerships to deliver online certificate programs directed at career-driven learners of all ages.12

Whatever the initiative, institutions need a connectivity plan to match operational growth goals. Reliable 5G coverage means that students, faculty, and staff can connect virtually anywhere learning happens.

We built our 5G network to give you an advantage today.

With America’s largest and fastest 5G network, T-Mobile® for Business is ready to help institutions like yours unleash the power of 5G now.

We offer a collaborative approach, building customized solutions to help you get ahead of the 5G curve faster. Lean into 360° support from a team of experts dedicated to helping your students, faculty, and staff get the most from advanced connectivity and new 5G-powered technologies.

T-Mobile for Business has an ambitious vision for powering innovation in higher education. To continue exploring 5G-fueled transformations across the education ecosystem, visit our industry webpage today.

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