Universities are using data to help make more calculated decisions.

As campuses seek to target prospective students and spend precious funds most effectively, more administrators are learning about predictive analytics—statistical techniques that gather data and help campus leaders make predictions about the future.

During its Business Analytics Online Education Conference, IBM tapped a number of college administrators to share their experiences with predictive analytics, and how the trend is helping to improve campus operations.

“Predictive analytics plays a very big role in terms of enrollment,” said Jimmy Jung, assistant vice president for enrollment management at the College at Brockport, which is part of the State University of New York system.

Using historical data, retention and graduation rates, application counts, and demographic data, Brockport analysts are “able to predict earlier and react to an increasingly competitive environment,” which Jung said has resulted in an increase in campus applications.

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Brockport staff also have use predictive analytics to examine the impact that the campus’s current financial aid strategy has on enrollment, in order to objectively decide what is and is not working.

This is Brockport’s first year using predictive analytics to drive decisions, especially where recruitment and enrollment are concerned.

Jung said IBM’s SPSS “has made a drastic impact … specifically targeting markets where there’s a higher potential for growth.” The software has helped Brockport officials determine which students have a higher probability of enrollment, enabling the school to spend more money in those areas to increase that probability.


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