One of the primary issues higher-ed institutions currently face when it comes to attracting and retaining students is the rising cost of education, balanced against the benefit of a college degree. With increasing costs, there’s also a rise in the number of students who don’t complete their degrees; in fact, less than 50 percent of students complete their degree within six years. All the while, colleges and universities are dealing with increasingly outdated core systems, and the upkeep costs increase every year.

To overcome these challenges, an emerging strategy among smaller, private institutions is to form consortiums to meet student success targets. While this trend is well established in public and state-level systems, its emergence among smaller, private institutions provides group-purchasing power and pricing transparency when negotiating with IT vendors.

In 2014, 11 public universities joined together to form the University Innovation Alliance. Its goal is to improve the graduation and retention rates among an estimated 400,000 U.S. undergraduate students. Through the alliance’s work, awarded degrees have increased by 10 percent.

Defining enterprise resource planning (ERP) consortiums

Why private colleges & universities are forming buying consortiums

College consortiums, which have emerged in the last few years, are when two or more higher-ed institutions implement a new system together (either officially or unofficially) and share the associated costs. Institutions who are early adopters of this model cite a myriad of benefits.

Many colleges start a consortium for the financial benefits and discover further advantages to sharing tools, services, and knowledge. Sharing core operational system resources helps institutions establish best practices, and not just at the institution level. The new generation of cloud-based ERP and student management systems are designed with a unified database to enable a single view of the student from enrollment to alumni.

About the Author:

Ted Saludes is the senior vice president for global higher education at Unit4. Prior to joining Unit4, he worked with Ellucian, a supplier of ERP and CRM software to higher-education institutions, as North America vice president in the CRM and learning management systems division. Saludes also has extensive enterprise-software experience from Avaya and EMC, where he was general manager for eight years.


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