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Top 16 Use Cases of RPA in Education in 2024

RPA, or robotic process automation, are software robots automating tasks that are time-consuming and menial tasks. Their benefit to us is a lower workload, and higher process execution accuracy. These benefits make robotic process automation particularly suitable to educational institutions.

The reason why robotic process automation in education is beneficial is because at educational institutions, the staff to student ratio is often disproportionate. So RPA can step in to reduce the staff members workload. This will, in return, enable schools and universities to improve their student services, such as counseling, advising, course registration, and more.

In this article, we will go in-depth on the top 20 use cases of RPA in education to showcase why automation and education is a match made in heaven.

1. Course registration

RPA bots, in regular intervals, can send a mobile notification/email reminder to students so they don’t miss their registration deadline. Once the student registers for a course, RPA can process the requests automatically, by checking if they meet the eligibility criteria for the course. For example, if a student hasn’t taken a prerequisite course, the software bots can suggest that they do so first.

2. Managing waitlists

RPA tools can be used to manage waitlists automatically. If a student wants to register for a course that is already full, the software can add him/her to the waitlist and enroll them once a spot is available.

3. Sending reminders for missing documents

RPA in higher education is useful because it streamlines application processing. The application process of colleges/universities is paper-heavy and exhaustive. Student often have to submit:

  • Multiple recommendation letters
  • Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Immigration forms (for international students)
  • Letters of intent
  • Financial documents, etc.

And for staff members who receive hundreds of enrollment applications yearly, it might be inevitable that a student’s missing documents/exam scores go unnoticed after the deadline. For instance, a student might mistakenly register for the SAT after application deadline.

RPA tools can check each student’s application checklist to send a reminder to each student about their missing documents/exam scores. Moreover, if applicable, RPA bots can exchange data with test centers via APIs and suggest exam dates that match the registration timeline.

4. Shortlisting candidates

Once the registration cycle closes, the first shortlist of candidates should be drawn up. RPA robots can create this preliminary list quickly and efficiently by cross-checking each student’s application info against the enrollment criteria. For example, if a TOEFL score is a must in the application, but the student hasn’t submitted theirs, then they would be eliminated in a rule-based flow.

Using intelligent automation in the shortlisting stage also makes the process equitable by not allowing underperforming applications to go to the next round.

5. Attendance management

Some professors assign a portion of a student’s grade based on their attendance in the course. For online courses in particular, RPA bots can be programmed to pick the student’s name from the attendance list each session. They could then place a check mark next to their name for class attendance that day.

Attendance management is a fundamental and time-consuming element of classroom management. RPA for schools and universities is particularly beneficial because is streamlines the process. And because the data is digitized, the teacher can instantly transfer attendance data into a spreadsheet to gain actionable insights, such as how students are attending class compared to the previous year. This information could help him or her make changes to the curriculum to make lessons more engaging. Or it could be used in performance evaluations by university administrators.

6. Scheduling meetins

An automated scheduling tool will streamline the process, especially in education, where students need to meet regularly with administrative staff to schedule their workload, make appointments, get guidance, and address other issues. The bot can be programmed to assign a specific time frame based on the “reason for the visit” provided by the student (e.g., reason “X” always allotted 30 minutes; reason “Y” allotted 1 hour unless otherwise specified).

Time conflicts are also automatically defused. If there are ad hoc adjustments to be made, they can be made on the spot. Or if decisions need to be made (e.g., two students want to see an advisor at the same time for the same reason), the problem can be sent to the advisor himself to make a decision.

In addition, meeting invitations are sent to the correct requester with all the correct data, such as the reason for the visit, meeting leader, duration, date, location, and so on. Automating the scheduling process reduces the likelihood of time overlaps, overload, and errors.

7. Equipment reservation

We are again talking about scarcity here: disproportionate numbers of students wanting to get access to a resource, such as a library book, a specialized computer, textbooks, and more.

Accurate scheduling and allocation makes the process fairer and more efficient. When reserving equipment, each piece of equipment can be assigned a number in the system so that it can be reserved digitally. For example, if a student wants access to a microscope that has already been reserved, he or she will be denied the request, not granted it in error.

8. Processing transcripts

Robotic process automation bots can gather and input the grades of a student, their instructors’ comments about their progress, and include all supplementary information onto their transcripts.

This is especially helpful for high school seniors applying to universities and needing their high school reports on time to upload them on their college applications before deadlines.

9. Personalizing tuition fee structures

Schools and universities often engage in affirmative pricing models. The students that come from different social, economical, academical, civil, and athletic backgrounds pay different tuition funds from each other.

RPA bots automatically apply a pre-determined tuition discounts to students who fall in different tuition brackets.

10. Personalizing the learning experience

In online learning, RPA software can create personalized teaching paths for each student, by leveraging their exam scores, likes, hobbies, attendance information, and more. The students themselves could ask an RPA-chatbot, for instance, for help in a certain topic, and the chatbot would gather all the useful information, by scraping the school’s library database or the teachers’ notes, on command.

Case study:

In the Georgia Institute of Technology, they used a chatbot as a TA for a graduate course. The chatbot, “Ms. Watson,” developed by IBM Watson, was able to 10,000 messages a semester with a 97% success rate. It took students some time to realize the Ms. Watson they were speaking to wasn’t a real TA, but rather a chatbot.

11. Test and assignment grading

Especially for large electives with a large number of students, assessment of exams can take a lot of time and energy. RPA bots can be programmed in a rule-based framework for grading online assessments.

For multiple-choice questions, the bot would follow a binary code that reads, “If anything other than [the correct answer], mark false.” For open-ended questions, the bot can be programmed to use NLP to search the answer for clues to the answer key. For example, it can be instructed to mark an answer as “correct” if it contains an important keyword from the answer key or something similar.

12. Answering queries

Students always have questions about something. And the maze of bureaucracy in educational institutions makes it time-consuming for a student to call and then be transferred to several people and departments before reaching the right end of the line.

RPA chatbots or RPA software bots can be programmed to receive questions, use NLP and NLU to understand the context and meaning of the questions, use answers from a command catalog, and then quickly give the student the most appropriate answer.

13. Automated financial reporting

Like any other organization, schools and universities have to present their financial reports to their stakeholders at the end of each fiscal year. Financial reporting software can be used to automatically generate new financial reports at the end of each term, by taking into account pertaining variables, such as the tuition receivables, donations, wage bills, etc.

We have an article that talks about RPA in reporting in more detail.

14. Payroll management

On the administrative side, payroll software that leverages RPAs can be used to monitor timely payment processing for all employees. At universities, employees often fall into different salary groups (e.g., teaching assistants, research assistants, lecturers, full-time professors, advisors, graduate students, etc.). It is helpful to use automated software to submit and process payroll in a timely manner. Once the infrastructure is in place, new employee data can be seamlessly transferred into the solution.

Explore payroll automation in more details.

15. Counseling

Healthcare chatbots are becoming more popular these days. And there is, unfortunately, growing concerns over students’ mental health in college campuses. Universities can leverage RPA-enabled emotional chatbots that can listen to students, direct them to a live agent if a certain keyword is mentioned (i.e. “suicide,” “harming myself,” etc.), schedule them counseling appointments, and more.

16. Student feedback and survey processing

Robotic process automation (RPA) can be used to automate the process of collecting, processing, and analyzing student feedback and surveys. By automating this process, schools and universities can save time and resources, reduce errors, and gain insights into student experiences. The bot can:

  • Collect survey data
  • Sort/filter data
  • Analyze the inputs
  • Generate reports
  • Send submission confirmation emails to students

Further reading

If you are interested in learning more about the use of digital technologies in education, read:

For a more in-depth view of RPA, download our comprehensive whitepaper on the topic:

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Finally, if you believe your enterprise would benefit from adopting a RPA solution, visit our RPA software center, where you’ll find data-driven lists of vendors.

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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