2. The Sharing University: Campuses would link student and administrative services to realize efficiencies of scale and/or capitalize on the expertise of institutions. Repetitive activities would be either automated or outsourced to a single institution within the system, enabling the other campuses to focus resources on more strategic activities. Examples of shared activities: career services, international recruitment, academic advising, legal affairs, and information security.

Example: The University System of Georgia has started the OneUSG initiative to develop and put in place streamlined policies, procedures and technologies.

3. The Experiential University: Institutions would integrate work experiences into the curriculum, with students toggling between long stretches in the classroom and the work world related to their area of study. Employers would have a chance to evaluate students for potential fit before committing to hiring them for a full-time position. Work experiences would be closely tied to the state’s economic development priorities and its emerging job market.

Examples: University of Cincinnati and Georgia Tech are operating a cooperative model, in which students are working one-third to almost half of the time a student spends in school.

4. The “Subscription” University: This platform focuses on continual learning throughout a student’s lifetime. Under this model, students would start higher education earlier by taking dual-enrollment or early college courses while still in the K–12 system. Thereafter, they could access university courses throughout their lives to gain and update their knowledge and skills as needed, paying lower tuition fees up front and then an annual subscription fee during their lifetime.

Example: Idaho’s State Board of Education makes policy for K-20 public education, continually working toward an education system without barriers within the governance or committee structure.

5. The Partnership University: The annual budgeting cycle would be extended across several years, making it easier for institutions to plan and make strategic investments. It would guarantee a certain level of funding from the state over multiple years in exchange for agreements from colleges for tuition limits, cost savings, increased collaboration and consolidation, and private fundraising. Businesses and other employers would also provide insights on curriculum, financial assistance for equipment, and other essential resources.

Example: Maryland’s Effectiveness and Efficiency Initiative saved $94 million at its 11-campus system and froze tuition for three years.

“Adopting elements of one or more of these models would require input and collaboration across a diverse set of stakeholders as well as strong leadership,” says Jeffrey J. Selingo, a visiting scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities and one of the authors of the report. “Developing a master plan that is forward looking and self-aware of a system’s challenges is a big lift but can be done and is needed to position our public higher education institutions for the future.”

Which of these 5 future approaches will your institution take in order to remain relevant?

In the research for the report, several common elements were identified to enable change at the system level, including:

Effective leadership: Strong and visionary leadership from the state governor, state legislators, university system leadership, boards, and institutional leaders will be required to drive change. An effective leader will help to design the blueprint for the state’s higher educational system and animate the university community to help build and embrace the vision.

A new focus for the university system office: The university system office would need to transition their focus from reporting and compliance to helping to define and measure success by establishing common data structures across the system, providing tools to monitor progress and support decisions, and conducting active communication between the central office and institutions. This additional level of responsibility will demand a concomitant level of authority and funding allocation.

An institutional culture that puts students at the center: When the needs of the student are at the forefront, decisions about where to invest and focus can be made more clearly, supporting areas that meet student demand. This line of thinking can help to direct investments needed to hire faculty, expand degree/credential offerings, and invest in new technology.

New financial models and incentives: As universities innovate, evolve, and collaborate more frequently within and across a system, the operational changes can affect the current funding model. Analysis would need to be done to rethink how to allocate revenues and costs across the system, and create clear incentives to develop new programs designed to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s economic realities.

Clear and frequent communication: Change in higher education is fraught with peril. Many change initiatives fail to take hold due to lack of stakeholder and leadership buy-in. Frequent and clear communication—painting a picture of the change imperative but also the vision of the improved future state—is a prerequisite to successfully implementing the difficult change outlined in the report.

“Today’s demands on public higher education institutions are very different from those dating back many decades, when the basic model of these institutions was formed,” says Cole Clark, managing director, Deloitte Services LP, who leads client and community outreach and relationships for its higher education practice. “Higher education is now firmly planted in a new era, and requires a new master plan: how it is organized and funded, its mission, and whom it serves.”

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura

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