Huron Consulting Group Addresses Higher Education Challenges in 2012
February 06, 2012 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
CHICAGO–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–Many believe 2012 will be a tumultuous year for higher education, with revenue streams slimmer, global competition more fierce, and the debate over high tuition levels growing louder on campuses. There has never been a more important time for universities to become more efficient, more focused, and more competitive.
“We see 2012 as a turning point in not just U.S., but global education. It’s a time when many universities will be assessing their strategic priorities and aligning them with their financial capabilities.”
“We work with universities across the country and our clients are being faced with fiscal, operational and mission-based challenges,” said Laura Yaeger, executive vice president, Huron Education. “We see 2012 as a turning point in not just U.S., but global education. It’s a time when many universities will be assessing their strategic priorities and aligning them with their financial capabilities.”
1) Traditional revenue streams will continue to be pressured. States are cutting higher education funding as tax collections diminish. In addition, federal support and research funding are not increasing. At the same time, borrowing costs are rising and unfunded pensions and healthcare liabilities add greater stress.
“Universities are increasingly focusing on their strategic priorities, evaluating programs relative to those priorities, and allocating resources and measuring progress in accordance with their needs,” said Yaeger. “In the end, universities are gaining a better understanding of what activities add value to students and stakeholders and providing clearer guidelines for staff and faculty about which programs and activities should be supported.”
2) University cost structures will undergo increased scrutiny. Universities will continue to be pressured to provide clarity related to expectations of faculty and to measure productivity. They will also need to consistently and quickly adapt in order to keep up with advancing technology, which often requires significant levels of investment and resources to deploy effectively across the enterprise.
Many universities are focusing on the linkages between business models, organizational structures, and tuition costs. This is resulting in some universities rethinking their academic model in their search for new sources of revenue.
3) Globalization is an increasingly competitive influence. The competition for top-paying students around the world has changed recruitment in the U.S. It can no longer be assumed that the U.S. university system will be a magnet for the best students in the world. Universities in the U.K. are recruiting top U.S. students, and China and India are quickly building up their own universities to keep more of their best students at home.
“Universities everywhere are forging approaches to globalization,” said Edwin Eisendrath, managing director, Huron Education. “As they do, they run into national and local barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and nativist backlash. The approaches vary, and it is too early to pick winners. But there is no doubt that carefully developed global strategies can provide universities with an additional competitive advantage, and in this increasingly pressured environment, any advantage can mean the difference between moving ahead and falling behind.”
While many institutions are facing difficult decisions because of strained finances, universities with abundant resources are taking advantage of the circumstances — the continued advantage for wealthy institutions will only increase. Meanwhile, smaller colleges and regional universities must reassess the competitive environment. This might mean more cooperation with other colleges and universities in articulation, educational programs, and operations. This year is rife with challenges, but they are not insurmountable for institutions willing to be bold and implement innovative strategies now.
To speak with one of the Huron Education experts about the key issues facing higher education in 2012 or for a copy of the full briefing, please contact:
Jennifer Frost Hennagir
About Huron Education
Huron Education is the premier provider serving the unique needs of the higher education industry. Our team of professionals, each with extensive knowledge and experience in the business of higher education and academic medical centers, delivers comprehensive services to the industry and partners with institutions to improve business performance across the enterprise. Our professionals draw from their experience working in the strategic, financial, operational, and regulatory aspects of higher education to develop and implement the most effective consulting and software solutions. Huron Education has helped more than 90 of the nation’s top 100 research institutions improve their performance so they can continue their traditions of extraordinary achievement. Learn more at www.huronconsultinggroup.com/highereducation or follow us on Twitter: @Huron.
About Huron Consulting Group
Huron Consulting Group helps clients in diverse industries improve performance, comply with complex regulations, reduce costs, recover from distress, leverage technology, and stimulate growth. The Company teams with its clients to deliver sustainable and measurable results. Huron provides services to a wide variety of both financially sound and distressed organizations, including healthcare organizations, Fortune 500 companies, leading academic institutions, medium-sized businesses, and the law firms that represent these various organizations. Learn more at www.huronconsultinggroup.com.