IBM helps Edith Cowan University enhance student success

Edith Cowan uses business analytics optimisation to gain greater insight into student success and detect early warning signs for students who may require extra support

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Perth, Australia - 03 Nov 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced it has completed a business analytics and optimisation (BAO) project that will assist Edith Cowan University (ECU) to improve its student retention and support programs, aimed at helping students complete their courses.

Since 2008, Edith Cowan University has been working to consolidate data across multiple faculties, schools and support centres. The initial aim of this project was to give executives consistent and accurate answers to the questions that were being asked on a daily basis such as “How many students are enrolled at the University?” 

Following the success of this project, ECU wanted to evolve to a more sophisticated model which would provide answers to more complex questions such as “Which students are showing signs of needing extra support?”, “What are the causes?”, “What can be done to increase student success?”

IBM’s Global Business Services team worked closely with ECU to understand the University’s key objectives and designed an advanced, predictive analytics platform – powered by IBM analytics software – that would draw out data to directly meet those objectives.

“ECU seeks to develop graduates who go on to become contributors to prosperous and sustainable communities in Western Australia and beyond,” said Brad Francis, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Business Services, Edith Cowan University

“In order to achieve that, the University has a responsibility to ensure that every student is given the opportunity to complete their degree in order to have the best start to their careers. The analytics program will enable the University to identify students who are showing signs of requiring extra support and point to possible causes. From this intelligence, the Student Services team can be mobilised to proactively engage with and help the students,” said Brad Francis.

These insights will form the support program that is the cornerstone of a broader project at the University to enhance students’ learning experiences as well as improve course curricula and teaching methods. The analytics program is expected to provide significant ROI in it’s first year through increased revenues due to retention of more students.  Other outcomes such as increased student satisfaction are also expected which will be reflected in improved survey outcomes and sector rankings.

Graham Kittle, Partner, Business Analytics & Optimization, IBM Global Business Services said: “The value that the IBM Global Business Service team brings to the project is our ability to align our analytics capabilities to the University’s objectives.

“We worked with ECU to formulate the questions that would produce the right information output. We then collected the data and translated it in an intelligible way. From that we were able to advise ECU on how to utilise the data to achieve the expected outcomes. For the first time, this massive transformation effort has given Edith Cowan University a business analytics optimisation platform that it can use to reliably inform its decision making into the future,” said Kittle.

About Edith Cowan University

Based in Perth, Australia, Edith Cowan University has more than 24,000 students, including 5,000 international students from over 90 countries, pursuing a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate studies in areas including arts, business, computing, education, health, law and science. For more information on Edith Cowan University please visit:

About IBM

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