Choosing the Right CMS for Higher Education Institution

By Kimi Mahajan Mar 5, 2020

It's 2020, and there is hardly any business not impacted by digital disruption. While the paradigm is still in its infancy, it’s expected to accelerate for every industry and company across the globe, including education. 

In an effort to reposition itself around a more relevant, albeit rapidly evolving, technology-driven student-crowd, the education institutes end up getting it tough. To keep up with the expectations for deeper and more advanced digital services, institutes find themselves in a flux to re-invent - what and how they operate by embracing the right technology.

Higher education institutes have it tough managing different software vendors, keeping the systems up and running with the latest upgrades while also providing a coherent and advanced digital experience

Higher-ed institutes need to come to life online in a way that stands out from their peers, if they are to face up to the intensely fierce competition in education.

What is an Educational Institute’s Digital Ecosystem Like? 


An average higher education institution now would not have anything less than 10 enterprise software excluding the smaller support systems, making it one of the most complex digital ecosystem. 

Departments and societies, in order to quickly distribute a lot of information to different stakeholders, often work around with software that works best for them. Eventually, an array of web content management tools are implemented. 

Managing these WCMS tools, building relationships with different software vendors, keep the systems up and running with the latest upgrades while also providing a coherent and advanced digital experience for students and faculty.

An average higher education institution now would not have anything less than 10 enterprise software excluding the smaller support systems, making it one of the most complex digital ecosystem

Imagine once, how difficult and costly it is for the educational institutes to manage and build relationships with all those >10 different software vendors, keep the systems up and running with the latest upgrades while also providing a coherent and advanced digital experience for students and faculty.

What options do higher ed institutes have, then? 

Can Drupal Help Higher-Ed Institutes?

Drupal is the most widely used content management system in higher education. Over 70% of higher education institutions rely on Drupal to drive their digital strategy. It is the preferred CMS for higher education because it provides the most flexibility for creating and managing various kinds of content to suit the needs of many different groups and audiences. Offering a powerful content management system along with collaboration of multiple authors, it comes to be the top choice for a university website. 

Serving different needs of different departments with multisite and easy integration

With numerous departments constituting a university, Drupal’s multisite feature helps departments and branches to have a seperate site built for each of them, over the same Drupal installation, enabling each of the branches to manage their own website.

You can effectively store content for every website and easily share content with the help of the Domain Access module. Also managing complex architecture of the website as well as various sections for prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff becomes much easier. Whether it is handling thousands of users, along with numerous content types, Drupal makes it much easier with reduced page loading time.

Centralized? Decentralized? Just easy user access control 

There is always a need to keep a check on how data is accessed and by whom. Different user roles in a university will need to interact with the system differently. Professors, students, and administration staff need different permissions for creating and editing website content based on their roles. With Drupal, it’s easier to manage out-of-the-box offered user roles, and contributed user access modules which help you to configure roles and permissions on the site.

Multilingual Functionality

With students all across the globe accessing the university website, Drupal makes it easy with its modules to translate the website as per the preference for any international student to scroll through the website and read content in the language of their choice. Drupal 8 comes with 4 multilingual modules in core for easy translation and offers a choice of 100+ language options.

An easy and better creation process 

Drupal offers an easy to use workflow management module, to get almost anyone to publish content and keep the website up-to-date. This process helps to keep the website up-to-date with any recent changes. The modules allow you to type content directly into a text editor in Drupal and preview it before publishing.

Universities often need to categorize content in various ways to make a website handy to use. Drupal comes with a taxonomy system which helps in categorising your content  and eases website content access. It simplifies the site navigation process by understanding the context of the entire content with tags. Learn how to easily add tags with Drupal taxonomy in 9 easy easy steps.

Responsive and Scalable

With many people preferring to read content on the go, Drupal sites are built to be responsive and are mobile friendly. An already optimized content proves to be a huge time and money saver. 

It’s also highly scalable and easily extends as the higher education institutions grow with increased number of student enrollments. 

Secured Websites

Education websites usually consist of sensitive information such as student’s family details, contact numbers etc. By using Drupal, you need not worry about any loss or theft of data as updating the website regularly for security patches keeps it secured. 

The fact that top institutions like Harvard University, Stanford Law School, Duke University, Brown University, Rutgers University, University of Oxford, University of Prince Edward Island, Karlstad University, Zaman University, Bentley University, Uncommon Schools, University of Waterloo, and Yale have their websites built on Drupal, it proves to be a testimonial for secured websites.

Reaching the right audience with SEO friendly features

Drupal ensures the website is SEO friendly and boosts search rankings in search engines with its search website optimization modules. With Drupal, you can manually set SEO friendly URLs without additional effort (or let the Pathauto module do it for you). With its powerful taxonomy system, you can categorize your website content and automatically create page titles and meta tags, which are important elements of SEO-friendly websites. Since Google's content analysis algorithms classify web pages based on fresh content, Drupal can help you keep your website updated so as to boost your website ranking. 

It remains a powerful cost-effective solution, with its round the clock community support through forums and discussions, offering numerous other benefits, at no additional costs. 

Robust and flexible governance and permissions capabilities

Higher education websites have various departments supporting the development and maintenance of the entire website content. Drupal’s higher level of security and site-governance tools offers great benefits by facilitating the entire process of managing sections and establishing simple processes for approving content changes. Site administrators within departments can customize the site’s workflow to suit their specific needs by leveraging Drupal’s highly flexible permission system. This overall benefits the teams by removing bottlenecks in the site editing process and fastens content editing, without letting them make changes to the design.

Evaluating accessibility tools

Higher education institution websites aim to offer a user-friendly experience to every potential student. It is important for such websites to adhere to compliance guidelines and be accessible to every visitor. Drupal, with the help of its robust tools, makes it easier to design websites which ensures the highest level of accessibility. 

One such Drupal distribution it offers is OpenEDU, which offers a built-in accessibility checker. It ensures website issues are discovered and addressed in real time.

Are you thinking of building a website for your higher education institution and can’t decide whether to opt for Drupal or not? Contact us today. Together we will understand your vision for your university website and how Drupal fits best to enhance your digital presence. 

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