Why Colleges Need a Master Data Management Strategy


Colleges and universities require consistent, reliable data to make informed, strategic decisions about student success and alumni engagement. The assurance of data quality can be a tricky proposition for any institute as they deal with student data that spans departments. The pandemic has also brought on a multitude of additional challenges.

Common Data Problems for Higher Education Institutions



Higher education institutions are treading water trying to recover from what they encountered during the pandemic, including a decline in enrollment, slashed budgets, and an increase in online enrollment.

Mis-Managed Data

Most colleges and universities manage data based on department-level needs rather than utilizing a top-down institutional data management method.  Because of this, university staff is limited to the information available to their department. Although it may keep things organized within each specific department, it is hard to make decisions when the data is held in disparate databases and is scattered across the institute as a whole.

Higher education decision-makers struggle to make data-driven decisions due to limited and constantly moving data throughout the organization as the campus population ebbs and flows. 

Administrators, alumni engagement, and recruitment and enrollment departments have difficulty implementing analytic initiatives due to:

  • Poor data collection: Online forms are not protected leading to false or mistyped entries. 
  • Inconsistent data definitions: Universities often have multiple definitions of “student” between different departments within the organization. 
  • Data quality assumptions: Most universities are behind on the adoption of data management and reporting tools. This leads to decisions made based on unverified data. 

To make matters worse, data is typically stored in spreadsheets on local computers resulting in a major security issue and a version-control nightmare. When incorrect data is identified, the frozen data is corrected but it’s not changed in the source system. 

A Master Data Management strategy can help and here's how:


How to Improve Data Quality with a Master Data Management Strategy

Since data within higher education becomes fragmented, duplicated, and outdated quickly, measuring any type of key performance indicator (KPI) is tricky. Not to mention, getting answers to simple questions like “who gives the most alumni donations?” and “what department carries the most students?” is nearly impossible. This is a missed opportunity to give recognition or drive additional revenue.

For the education industry to overcome these challenges, it needs a Master Data Management Strategy to help with entering, aggregating, consolidating, de-duping, standardizing, storing, querying, and maintaining data. 


How a Master Data Management Strategy will Help:

  • Identify and organize your data
  • Maintain data cleanliness
  • Optimize marketing campaign reach and return
  • Improve decision making 
  • Accelerate organizational growth


Best Practices for Creating an MDM Strategy:

  • Identify all of your data sources: Since education institutes struggle with a common definition for “student” and are separated based on department, it's wise to start with a master list of what types of data you can identify. For example, transactional data, alumni, recruiting, transfer, and much more.
  • Do a quality control check on your data: Remarkable marketing starts with truth in data. Data enhancement and email hygiene will provide you with what you need to run a “truth-test” on existing data.

Prospective student, current student, and especially alumni data is constantly changing. Up to 3% of data changes every month. Alumni move, switch jobs, get married, etc. You could easily end up with incorrect alumni addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Webbula’s Data Enhancement Service can identify and fill these data gaps, cleaning up the overall accuracy of your database. 

Download The Complete Guide to Data Appends

In addition,Webbula Email Hygiene can alert you to typos, malicious moles, and spam traps hiding in your database. With these threats identified, you can protect your email channel’s deliverability and improve marketing campaign performance.

Download the Complete Guide to Email Hygiene

  • Maintain data health: Data enhancement and email hygiene should be implemented every 3-6 months to maintain a high level of data quality. This is crucial to expanding alumni fundraising efforts and student enrollment semester to semester.
  • Organize your data: One way institutions can organize their data is by utilizing a Data Management Platform.  Data management platforms can unify data across departments, help you segment your data into targetable audiences, and empower insight-driven marketing decisions. 
  • Put robust data security measures in place: Data stored locally in spreadsheets poses a huge security risk to your institute. Prioritize data security and encryption measures to avoid any lost data or data breaches. 

Discover how Webbula Email Hygiene and Data Enhancement helps colleges and universities grow enrollment and alumni engagement.

Contact us to get started cleaning up your student and alumni data today. 

Verify, Protect and Grow Your Database