Outsourcing in Higher Ed: A Viable Strategy

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Outsourcing in Higher Ed: A Viable Strategy
Chris Burton
Vice President of Business Development, Greenwood Hall

Outsourcing remains a vital strategy for success in today’s higher education landscape. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education 2016 Trends Report, outsourcing in higher education is quickly on the rise, reaching far beyond the traditional bounds of payroll processing, campus bookstores and the cafeteria (sushi, anyone?). What exactly are colleges outsourcing? The growing list includes marketing, enrollment operations, advising, curriculum design and delivery, facilities and grounds management, technology management, campus housing, and in some cases, even raising investment capital to fund growth initiatives. Galvanize CEO, Jim Deters referred to these changes as the “great unbundling of education that is taking shape right now.”

The reality is this: most institutions are unable to effectively manage business operations that service student needs…particularly during peak times. As a result, college administrators must take notice that strategic goals for enrollment growth and improved retention will remain unattainable if solutions that maximize institutional effectiveness are not forged, even if that means sourcing some operations to outside partners. As you might suspect, there are a plethora of innovative thought leaders striving daily to create solutions that help institutions improve business processes and enhance the student (and staff) experience.outsourcing comic

The rationale for outsourcing is simple…partnering with outside organizations allows institutions to focus on what they do best (teach students), while at the same time achieving operational efficiencies and an improved student experience. And we all know what that means…happy students equals increased tuition revenue. If you are one of these thought leaders creating these incremental shifts in higher education, then keep innovating. If you’re a college administrator, determine your core competencies and then look for opportunities to leverage outside providers to complement your institution where it makes the most sense. The ROI will be well worth the investment.

Campus Safety And Diversity: Taking The First Step

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Campus Safety And Diversity: Taking The First Step
Chris Burton
Vice President of Business Development, Greenwood Hall

Few higher education officials deny that safety is a problem on college campuses in the U.S., particularly issues of diversity, sexual assault and hazing. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, there are currently 249 open investigations related to sexual assault across the United States. Furthermore, a cursory glance of the education sector’s headlines reveal continued strains on campus race relations. And it’s not just students staging walkouts and issuing demands as faculty, coaches and board members join the debate to voice support for better safety and inclusion initiatives. Consider the following statistics:

  • 36% of students say they would not report hazing primarily because there was “no one to tell”
  • Every 21 hours there is a rape on an American college campus
  • 5% of all college students admit to being hazed
  • 40% of college students involved in hazing report that a coach or advisor was aware of a hazing event
  • Research shows that campus violence impacts student academic performance and a higher likelihood of not completing

How colleges respond to campus safety issues continues to come under greater scrutiny as campus leaders evaluate strategies to deal with growing tensions. Most administrators want to do the right thing in creating a safe campus environment. However, it is an ongoing challenge that is complicated by tight budgets and increasing scrutiny. So, how do administrators create a safe campus environment?

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I’d like to suggest that the first step every college should make is to establish a 24/7/365 monitored tool (website, hotline, text, webchat, etc.) where students, employees, and other members of a campus community can obtain university sponsored information on all safety and diversity related issues, seek front line counseling and referrals to campus/community resources, and anonymously make university officials aware of any inappropriate or unlawful conduct that jeopardizes the health, well-being, or safety of a campus community. Reaching far beyond simply offloading nonemergency calls, these tools can provide campus leaders the capacity to capture all incoming data on every incident, request or query, track response and resolution times, and use data to make informed decisions about resource allocation.

When looking to improve campus safety and diversity, aim to set new standards. Campus safety is not just about university police; it’s about advocacy, incident reporting, retention, education, prevention, and support resources. An investment in the right resources may prove small compared to the cost of inaction.

From “Churn and Burn” to “Learn and Earn”

From “Churn and Burn” to “Learn and Earn”
Chris Burton
Vice President of Business Development, Greenwood Hall

Look to the right of you. Then look to the left of you. One of you will not be here by the end of the year…” said many college deans during freshman orientation over the years. Today’s retention and graduation statistics remind us of this unfortunate reality in today’s higher education landscape. And while college completion remains a priority among politicians, large foundations (e.g. Gates, Lumina), and local economic development groups who need more trained individuals to fill jobs, students are not the only ones suffering.

Inside Higher Ed’s 2015 Survey of College and University Presidents found that institutions statistically fall into 1 of 3 groups regarding confidence in the sustainability of their institution’s financial model over the next 10 years. Approximately 1/3 of those surveyed agree or strongly agree that their institution has a sustainable financial model. Another 1/3 of presidents were neutral, while the final 1/3 expressed strong concerns that their institution would survive beyond 10 years. Alas, not only are students suffering the effects of poor graduate rates, but many of our great institutions are too.

In December 2015, my company conducted a “first of its kind” study of foregone tuition among Council for Christian Colleges and University (CCCU) member schools. The results revealed a significant impact on revenue. In aggregate, tuition losses for the 115 schools in our study totaled approximately $1.3B annually or about $11.0M per school. We made no attempt to include the cost of recruitment, room, board, fees or the lifetime value of alumni giving.

The solution? Retention is where real revenue is created. And a key factor in retaining students and growing revenue is not simply admitting more students, but in keeping the ones already in your midst. Or, as Neal Raisman says, “It’s time for schools to shift from admissions-concentration to an admissions AND retention focus; from churn and burn to learn and earn.” In this paradigm shift we find the truest definition of student success, where students graduate and institutions sustain their operations and accomplish their mission.