Higher education institutions face strikingly different prospects. There are instances where top-ranked schools turn away a huge number of applicants, while small colleges and schools face declining enrollment. These two are different kinds of pressures on schools, colleges, and students as well. It forces the institutions to make painful choices like turning away top applicants, laying off faculty, merging with other schools, losing accreditation, or shutting down in the worst situation. Many students leave in the middle due to educational debt, lose education, and so on.
Financial pressure is becoming more common in education management. The COVID-19 situation has intensified the financial pressure. The states across the continents are slashing budgets for education management, students are demanding discounts for virtual fall semesters, and institutions are distributing refunds.
It is important to implement education solutions for higher education and enable them to serve students. When the state of our colleges and Universities become healthy, the foundation of our economy and society will be stronger. Having said this, let us understand the challenges faced by the higher education system.
Challenges of higher education systems
A true transformation is challenging, McKinsey’s study reports. To mention a few of the challenges, they are:
- Implementation of new and alternating learning models
- Coping up with reduced government grants
- Questions regarding the return on investment of higher education
- Changing demography and demands of students
- Witnessing consistent growth in operational costs and services
The university leaders face these and many more challenges while transforming their educational institutes. They may be gifted educators, academicians, researchers, or fundraisers, but leading transformation is complex and a daunting task, indeed. Further, stakeholders’ non-cooperation due to deep-rooted sentiments on school traditions and institutions add to the challenges. Shared governance structures of universities too make it difficult. Making parents understand is also a task shouldered on education leaders alone.
At this crossroads, let us see how professional education can be made easier and manageable.
Several leading institutions are developing effective strategies to improve the odds of success. The findings suggest that it is crucial to focus on improving student outcomes, identifying ways to grow revenues, and thereby managing costs.
Jonathan Fry, Education Lead, argues to focus on these important concepts to drive down administrative costs. Let’s investigate here.
He says, there is a need for evaluation of resources by identifying cost-consumption patterns to win over the financial stress imposed by COVID and other conditions. He recommends zero-based spend which involves the forensic analysis of expenditures.
This education solution will help the institutes to:
- Use Analytical and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to understand how costs are assigned and examine expenditure data more at a granular level.
- Use performance data and move beyond a cost focus.
- Understand trends and benchmarks, cost category components, particularly in overhead projects.
- Identify methods to improve work organization and list of opportunities to either reduce or redirect costs.
- Develop a gap-closing budget strategy through ZBS and ZBO diagnostic findings.
Jonathon Fry continues his inputs on bringing financial stability in higher educations. He insists on implementing automation tools alongside an ERP system. Robotic process automation (RPA) may drive significant value at a lower cost (than expected) and return on investments can be achieved in a short time. RPA is a technology deployment that eliminates waste in the processes and frees the people to focus on higher-value activities. The process automation will bring quick results for the educational institutions looking for cost savings even in a decentralized environment.
The universities and institutes that take initiatives on these lines may generate revenues quickly, attract more students, and drive excellence in teaching and research in a more sustainable manner.