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Trust and Satisfaction in Higher Education Improves, Listening Lags

Last updated:  December 14, 2022

2023 Education Experience Trends Report shows opportunity for educational institutions to improve student and employee experiences

Colleges and universities saw highest jump in likelihood to recommend, increasing from 72% to 77% year over year – the highest gain across industries studied

However, 7 out of 10 consumers think colleges and universities could do better at listening, and less than half (44%) of education employees believe positive change will occur as the result of surveys

PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE (Dec. 14, 2022) – Colleges and universities have seen a bounceback in satisfaction, trust and likelihood-to-recommend post-pandemic, according to the 2023 Education Experience Trends Report from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM). All three metrics are up compared to one year ago, demonstrating the institutional loyalty that colleges and universities have even when they are facing difficult challenges.

However, the report also shows that colleges and universities lag behind other industries when it comes to listening to feedback. Seven in 10 respondents said higher education institutions could do better, compared with the global cross-industry average of 63%.

Education continues to feel the strain of challenging times, from balancing live-virtual-hybrid learning, to perceived low salary and bureaucratic processes, to declining enrollment and safety concerns. And an interesting paradigm shift is happening among students and families who view education as a public service, so colleges and universities face higher – and growing – expectations.

Qualtrics surveyed more than 7,000 consumers* across 25 countries and over 2,500 employees across 27 countries about their experiences with educational institutions in 2022. The research provides insights, opportunities and recommendations to help inform education leaders on key areas of focus to navigate these challenging times and ultimately find success in 2023.

2023 Education Customer Experience Trends are:

  1. Establish multi-channel feedback approaches so community members feel heard
  2. Build trust with equity-driven decisions for greater impact
  3. Use institutional loyalty to improve brand reputation
  4. Put community members first to improve satisfaction

With satisfaction and trust on the rise, colleges and universities should take the opportunity to build their brand reputation and nurture positive experiences and outcomes. Efforts to improve student experiences must be grounded in intentional listening strategies, including the adoption of technology to make sense of all the information available and to move beyond listening to closing the loop and driving action. The same is true for the employee experience.

Faculty and staff at education institutions reported better experiences this year than in the 2022 trends report, as campuses and school buildings returned to normal. Engagement, intent-to-stay and employee experience vs. their expectation all rose in the 2023 trends report.

But 43% of education employees reported feeling emotionally drained from work, contributing to 35% feeling at risk of burnout. Further, only 39% of education employees agree that their pay is clearly linked to performance, down 11 percentage points from the global cross-industry average. With just 58% of education employees agreeing that senior leadership responds to feedback from employees, it’s clear institutions need to move beyond collecting feedback and demonstrate how the data is used to inform decision-making.

2023 Education Employee Experience Trends are:

  1. Improve employee satisfaction by aligning pay and performance
  2. Build employee trust by acting on feedback
  3. Reward employees for taking risks to fuel innovation
  4. Provide professional growth to avoid potential burnout

A deeper focus on employee satisfaction rooted in open lines for feedback will help institutions make targeted improvements to the employee experience that builds trust and ultimately drives better outcomes for students.

“Thinking of education as a commodity is a long-standing taboo, but the cost of higher education is continuing to rise and student and family expectations for institutions are growing,” said Lee Perlis, head of Industry Advisory for Education at Qualtrics. “This research shows that colleges and universities are at a critical crossroad in their relationship with stakeholders. Those applying the lessons learned in the pandemic to put students, families and alumni at the center of institutional decision-making are helping ensure affinity and loyalty for generations.”

For more, read the full 2023 Education Experience Trends Report.

This research marks the second part of Qualtrics’ 2023 Industry Experience Trends research series that examines customer and employee experiences across global industries including government, education and healthcare.

*Consumers are defined as people who interacted with colleges and universities in the last year, which includes students, family members and alumni.

About Qualtrics XM for Education

With over 20 years of experience in education, Qualtrics now serves over 1,000 education institutions across K-12 and Higher Education around the world—including 99 of the top 100 business schools and over half of the top 50 U.S. school districts—helping them understand and improve the experiences they deliver. Qualtrics solutions are purpose-built to help leaders in education understand experiences across departments, take the right actions to attract and retain students and staff and increase engagement and success. Qualtrics’ XM for Education solutions uncover unique insights into the student journey and empower school leaders to close experience gaps—driving increases in enrollment, retention and graduation. To learn more, please visit

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit

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Media Contact:

Geraldine Lim