You might be surprised to learn that only a small number of lost items are ever found…
The years that students spend at university are often some of the best years of their lives. On top of being somewhere that they go to learn, it will for many be the first taste of freedom away from the ‘tyranny’ of mum and dad.
Once students start studying at your university, they are under your supervision. So when they face an issue, your staff should be able to assist them.
To help with this, universities are starting to invest more and more on improving the overall student experience. Now that the cost of enrolling is higher than ever, it will be expected by your students too.
Lost property is part of student welfare
One overlooked but vitally important part of this is a well organised and cohesive lost property process. Students will be moving across your network regularly as they travel from campuses and halls of residence. This constant flux results in a lot of missing items.
Over 50% of students will misplace something during their time with you. This results in over 4.5 million missing items at universities in the UK each year.
Students aren’t the best equipped demographic to be losing something either. Misplacing a phone might be an inconvenience for some of us, but when you’re living on a shoestring budget it could prove to be a real problem.
On top of the potential financial burden of needing to unnecessarily replace items, we also need to consider how this might affect a students wellbeing. A lost laptop could mean hours of wasted work. Misplacing a sentimental item could cause distress during exam time. This is why it’s so important that there is a clear process in place for students to find their lost belongings.
(Source: NotLost primary research)
But it’s not easy to do without the right help
Unfortunately, most universities aren’t well equipped to deal with these kinds of enquiries. 70% of students don’t know if there even is a process at their university. 45% never get their lost property back.
This is because without the proper tools, linking up all your different locations is very difficult to do. Items found in the library may not be visible to those handling lost property enquiries for a lecture hall. This means that even if something is found there’s no assurance that the rightful owner will be able to get it back.
This disjointed process also takes up a disproportionate amount of time for your staff as they search around trying to locate an item across a vast network.
On average, university staff spend 114 hours a month dealing with lost and found. Time which could be far better spent on other tasks.
So here we have a process which firstly wastes the time of your staff, and also causes unnecessary stress for students.
A tried and tested system
Using Notlost’s tailored software your staff can register a found item simply by taking a photo and uploading it to our secure database.
Now when a student has a lost property enquiry they can be directed to an easy to use self service form as their first point of call.
From here they enter the details of the item, including where it was lost and at what time. Our system takes that information and provides appropriate options using our image matching software.
The student then selects their missing item and arranges to either pick it up or have it posted to them.
UCL (University College London) implemented NotLost’s software back in 2019. Since then it has been used to great effect in modernising their lost and found process.
Your staff can also have visibility of all of the items that have been found on campus. Now, when you receive an inquiry from a distressed student who’s lost their laptop with 2 days to go until their dissertation is due, your staff are able to help.
All they need to do is search for the item on NotLost’s database and they can provide an answer in minutes.
A fully digital experience
Having an online journey is the only scalable way to manage lost and found enquiries across your university.
It’s also something your students, being part of a technologically savvy generation, will want to see. So, being able to provide a digital experience for these types of enquiries is vital for keeping in step with what your students expect from you.
There is no need to rely on staff availability or restraints around working hours. Your students can locate missing items whatever the date or time.
The effort that your team would spend searching different locations for a missing laptop can now be put into far more important tasks.
If you’re not using dedicated software to manage your lost property then there’s a good chance that the process is far from sustainable.
Students may replace low value items if there’s not an easy way to get them back. Certain other possessions will fall through the cracks due to poor management. This means that you’re throwing away far more than you need to and unnecessarily contributing to landfills.
As awareness of environmental issues grow it’s important to show your students where you stand and how you’re taking positive action.
Get in touch
Fortunately, lost property isn’t something you need to figure out on your own. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with our team.