Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) have a long history. It first began as a grassroots effort in the 1980s, with associations being formed across the nation to push for national recognition. In 1992, Congress formally recognized HSIs and appropriated federal funding for these institutions (AKA grants). An HSI institution is defined as:
- is an eligible institution; and
- has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application.
Declining enrollment overall, increasing enrollment for Latinos
Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic decrease in enrollment overall, but in that past couple of years, the number of Latino students enrolled in college rose from 3.17 million in 2016 to 3.27 million in 2017. Hispanic undergraduate enrollment more than doubled, to 3 million. This makes them only one of two demographic groups that saw an increase in college attendance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Most institutions don’t start out by attracting Latino students, they become Hispanic-serving when the area they serve has a significant Latino population growth. As the number of HSIs increase, more universities are testing out new ways to better serve a growing part of their student body. Some are adding more Hispanic faculty, forming committees, and creating events geared toward the Latino community.
For example, Central Florida has seen an influx of Latinos moving to the area from Puerto Rico and Venezuela. A major university in the area, the University of Central Florida (UCF) has catered to this trend and recently became an HSI. They formed a committee and hired an assistant director of Hispanic-serving initiatives to cater to the growing population of Latino students. But that isn’t enough as Latinos are not monolithic, there is a major cultural shift that needs to be implemented in institutions in order to have this group of students succeed. For example, a Cinco de Mayo party would welcome Mexican students but would alienate Puerto Ricans.
Yet, with an increase in enrollment, Latino students have the lowest degree attainment of any other group. Deborah Santiago, one of the co-founders of Excelencia in Education, says that ignoring Latino students is bad for business, “You can’t just enroll them if you’re not going to help them graduate….the only growth population is Hispanics. So we’re saying: You have got to focus on what it means to serve.”
But what many higher ed institutions often fail to realize is how technology can help in this matter — specifically how optimized workflows can be adapted to serve the needs of the growing Hispanic student body.
An intelligent business process management (iBPMs) platform can help. iBPMs is software that helps organizations optimize processes to become more efficient, streamlined, and adaptable to changing conditions. Using BPM software empowers non-technical users to build and model workflows with low-code technology.
How BPM can help HSIs
- Automate tasks to ensure you remain HSI compliant
- Menial paper-based tasks are often time-consuming and are prone to human error. Automating these tasks ensures that the faculty’s time isn’t wasted. Universities can also make workflows that help HSIs serve the Hispanic community like push notifications, social media automation, and event marketing via email and SMS
- Give time back to faculty to focus on the students
- Having efficient workflows is more valuable to HSIs because 70% of Latino undergraduates in higher education come from families in the bottom half of earners, according to a recent report. Because of that, nearly half of Latino students are first in their family to attend college. They don’t have a strong foundation to build their college experience and need time and attention from faculty. Administrative tasks take time away from students and student’s needs. Help your staff cater to your bottom line by increasing their time spent with students.
- Digitize all paper-based forms
- With the digitization of paper-based forms, Latino students can easily get English documents translated into Spanish if no translation exists.
- Assign tasks to specific users when a student completes a certain task or falls behind in class.
- According to a recent article by USA TODAY, while more Latinos are attending college, they are intimidated by the cost, lack of diversity, and the bureaucracy. Ease that tension by being hyper-focused on the student. Make it easy for your staff to do so by creating tasks, reminders, and email notifications when something is due or an alert is created.
In order to serve the needs of the growing Hispanic population at HSIs, universities need to focus on how to help Latino students succeed. They often feel overlooked, lost in the bureaucracy of it all, and don’t feel like their needs are being met. If your faculty is bogged down by too many administrative tasks, the focus on being a student-serving institution is almost nearly impossible. With the right workflows and systems in place, university faculty can focus their attention on what matters most. The students.