Why private colleges & universities are forming buying consortiums

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 All the while, colleges and universities are dealing with increasingly outdated core systems, and the upkeep costs increase every year.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.…Read More

Company to deliver on promise of “Netflix for Education”

In a move designed to lower student costs and improve access to learning, Cengage, an education and technology company, recently announced Cengage Unlimited. This first-of-its-kind subscription gives students access to all the company’s digital higher education materials—more than 20,000 products across 70 disciplines and more than 675 courses—for $119.99 a semester, no matter how many Cengage materials they use.

“High costs are limiting too many students from being able to access and succeed in their learning,” said Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage.  “Students are either spending hundreds of dollars a year on materials, or else put off buying them altogether because they can’t afford them.  And, for many students who do find a way, it is because they are taking on student loan debt that will impact them for years.

“With Cengage Unlimited, students finally have an alternative to the traditional and costly approach of paying for each course’s materials individually.  We are taking unprecedented action to break down cost barriers and end the cycle of students having to choose between course materials they can afford and the results they want,” Hansen continued.…Read More

Report: It’s a myth that small colleges can’t survive

Mythbuster alert: small, private colleges and universities are remarkably resilient and show considerable financial stability and growth, according to a new report.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), with support from the TIAA Institute, produced the report. The data comes from 14 years of benchmarking reports prepared for CIC members from 559 private colleges and universities, and it reveals that 88 percent of small private institutions maintained or improved their financial standing–an impressive accomplishment, considering the 14-year period includes the 2007-2009 recession.

Some institutions have experienced a roller coaster-like pattern of financial ups and downs, but most have shown significant improvement when it comes to financial indicators used to gather data.…Read More

3 reasons colleges & universities must improve how they manage print

For many higher education administrators, it seems like just yesterday final grades were submitted. Summer is commonly thought of as the time many go away on vacation, but for the information technology (IT) teams on campus, summer is oftentimes when they upgrade campus computing infrastructure. When the IT staff is working to improve their internal network, one area they shouldn’t overlook is the printing infrastructure.  Yet, it often is.

Printing is one of the largest areas of unnecessary spending yet one of the least tracked. A study conducted by Lexmark found that an average of 17 percent of printed documents were considered waste – pages that users didn’t want.

As institutions look for ways to decrease the cost of printing – they sometimes come up with creative solutions. In 2010, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s IT department decided to cut printing costs by changing the default font type on the University’s email. Perhaps they thought if someone printed out the email it would use less paper.…Read More

The 5 boldest university models in 2017

Bold thinking and bold action from higher-ed trustees and academic leaders are essential if the next generation of students is to have access to high-quality and affordable education, according to a new report.

With a little creativity and engagement, though, trustees and campus administrators can implement policies and strategies that improve campus efficiency, accountability, educational quality, and completion rates.

Bold Leadership, Real Reform 2.0: Improving Efficiency, Cutting Costs, and Expanding College Opportunity, revisits schools profiled in an earlier report and provides updates on the schools’ initiatives and efforts to improve institutional quality and lower costs.…Read More

Colleges: Here’s how to go digital without blowing your budget

The key to achieving a successful digital transition without exceeding a budget might lie in print management, according to a survey from the Center for Digital Education.

A digital transformation rests on three foundational pillars–security, sustainability and streamlined operations. Print management can help higher-ed institutions overcome the financial challenges in these three pillars, according to the report.

The Center for Digital Education recently surveyed 162 higher education decision-makers about various areas of their print environment to gauge where they are on the path to transformation and how they are overcoming budget and spending barriers.…Read More

3 tech hacks that help universities cut costs (not students)

It’s no secret that cost control is a hot topic for colleges and universities across the country. Following the 2008 recession, most states have struggled with limited budgets and have had to make difficult decisions that, at times, have included reducing funding for education. In fact, 46 states spent less per student in 2016 than they did before the recession.

Who really suffers as a result of these funding cuts? Students. It’s simple math: As funding decreases, tuition often climbs. Specifically, since 2008, tuition has risen 33 percent for colleges and universities across the United States. Arizona’s tuition rates have increased the most, jumping 72 percent between 2008 and 2014.

But let’s face it: Institutions can only raise tuition fees so high before it begins to affect enrollment, which drops as fewer students are able to foot the bill. And because developing students is the basic premise of higher education, the situation seems pretty clear—colleges need a better way to manage costs.…Read More

Are private sector schools doomed to fail?

Analysts describe 4 characteristics of “healthy” private sector schools; include tech career alternative programs.

Newsworthy failures in proprietary higher education have led to generalizations about the career school sector as a whole. Most think of for-profits as a homogeneous group, but the reality is that few are failing. The business model of a small school that trains people to run an MRI machine or fix an air conditioner is very different than that of a large public company that offers a diverse array of certificates and degrees.

Members of the latter group get a lot of press due to their national presence, and, indeed, many are struggling. But smaller institutions make up the majority of private sector schools. There are 3,000 private sector institutions in the U.S. serving 3.5 million students according to the industry trade group, Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU). And the programs these schools offer run the gamut, from bachelor degree programs to skills development and career training.

Observation of Velocify’s 150+ higher education clients contradicts the notion of widespread failure. In fact, over the past four quarters, 89 percent of Velocify education clients that have made any change to their accounts have added user licenses to accommodate larger admissions teams, an indication of growing enrollment (of the Velocify education clients in the past four completed quarters [2Q15-1Q16] that have added or subtracted enrollment representative seats [i.e. grown or contracted], 89 percent have added seats.]…Read More

Major OER initiative targets new degree programs

38 community colleges in 13 states will join a national OER initiative to cut costs while improving degree, certificate completion

A major new community college initiative will work to develop degree programs using open educational resources (OER) in an effort to ease textbook-related financial obstacles students often face in higher education.

The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream announced the initiative on June 14, and representatives said they hope it will spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.

Achieving the Dream will help colleges make OER degrees critical elements of their student success efforts. Lumen Learning will provide technical assistance; SRI International will evaluate the initiative and conduct research on how OER degrees impact student success and the institutions providing them; and the Community College Consortium of Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) will facilitate a community of practice.…Read More

College finances improve, but students still shoulder burdens

Higher education’s finances have mostly bounced back from the 2008 recession, but students still carry bulk of education-related costs.

college-spendingCollege and university finances have largely rebounded from the 2008 recession, but students still shoulder the bulk of education-related costs at most postsecondary institutions through tuition, according to a new report by the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

“The news for higher education finance in 2013 is generally positive: Per-student spending on education increased at all types of public and private institutions,” said Steven Hurlburt, a senior researcher at AIR and co-author of the report. “But one of the more unfortunate outcomes of the recession is that colleges and universities were unwilling or unable to restructure costs and shifted them onto students instead.”

The publication of “Trends in College Spending: 2003-2013” coincides with President Obama’s final State of the Union address, which is expected to trumpet the economic recovery since he took office in 2008. The recovery has not mitigated the ongoing student loan crisis, which exists partly because of the escalating price of a college degree.…Read More