For higher education institutions across the nation, it is time to embrace the “next normal” and plan for an uncertain enrollment future.

Tech’s key role in planning for an uncertain enrollment future

For higher education institutions across the nation, it is time to embrace the “next normal”

Traditionally, higher education lived in a world where enrollment was quantifiable. Over the last couple of years that has changed drastically. Colleges and universities are now facing challenges presented by unpredictable enrollment figures that make conventional, historically-based budgeting nearly impossible. In fact, data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) shows enrollment across all colleges fell 2.7 percent in the autumn of 2021 and 2.5 percent in 2020.

The risk of these lower enrollment numbers is the waterfall effect these altered revenue projections have on financial planning across the entire institution. This includes everything from staffing and personnel budgets to additional operating expenses, facilities maintenance and upkeep, athletic programs, and more.

To plan, budget, and forecast in this new era of enrollment volatility, CFOs and other finance professionals at higher education institutions must be well-equipped with agile planning capabilities and tools.

Limitations of Planning in Excel

When planning with manual spreadsheets like Excel, one of the biggest challenges for higher education finance professionals is trying to consolidate information from other departments and groups within the institution, many of which are in different systems or formats and could be wrong, due to human error. As a result, finance teams spend extra time trying to make sense of the data, scrubbing it, and then inputting it into the centralized system for analyzing and generating reports.

eSchool Media Contributors