(PRWEB) February 05, 2013
No one in the United States can avoid hearing about the governmental fiscal cliff that is being reported by the media. It’s all about revenue and expenses. Not enough of one and too much of the other. When it comes to the budget challenges, congressional leaders are fond of saying they don’t want to “kick the can down the road”. Or in other words, we will let the next set of leaders tackle these major decisions. I submit that higher education institutions are also facing a similar fiscal cliff and each institution’s leaders are facing similar challenges without specific deadlines. Higher education institutions are facing ever-accelerating challenges on both fronts; revenue and expenses.
On the revenue side of the equation, higher education leadership is asking questions like the following: Can we continue to increase tuition, and if so, by how much? How can we grow the school and increase the student population? Are there student demographics that the institution is not reaching? How can we better reach and connect with our alumni, donors, and friends to reap additional support? What changes to the traditional classroom delivery method should we consider and possibly adopt, such as on-line classes? What’s with all the acronyms like BYOD (bring-your-own-device) and MOOC (massive open on-line course)?
On the expense side of the equation, higher education leadership is asking questions like the following: Where can we cut expenses without impacting the educational experience? How can we increase the efficiency in every department within the institution to allow for the desired growth? How can we recruit and retain talented faculty with ever increasing compensation demands and costs? How can we reduce the workload on our faculty and administrative teams? How can we better maintain our aging buildings and infrastructure? Why does everything seem to cost more than we anticipated? Per Kathleen M. Rusch, Ph.D., President of the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology, “How do we maintain the interpersonal connectedness that is so important for both students and educators alike? We can’t lose the "personal touch" that drew many of our students to our school in the first place.”
Technology provides one answer for higher education institutions to avert the fiscal cliff on both sides of the equation. The higher education marketplace is facing challenges other sectors and industries addressed years ago. As an example, the manufacturing sector realized that they couldn’t continue to throw money and people at productivity issues. The manufacturing sector used to think the only answer to the need for more productivity was to add additional shifts and people to the manufacturing process. Now through the use of technology like robotics and bar coding, manufacturers are now able to produce more with either the same or less resources.
For higher education institutions,
-Technology now allows schools to be more efficient, productive, and effective in their administrative tasks. Today’s Academic ERP and/or Student Information Systems (SIS) should allow a school to integrate applications like admissions, registration, and billing without the redundant entry of the same data. Integrated applications should also significantly increase interdepartmental communication and allow institutions to finally eliminate many paper forms and spreadsheets that are prevalent in many departments.
-Technology can now allow institutions the ability to streamline the recruitment process with improved efficiencies. Through the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, schools should be able to better communicate with prospective applicants without “losing” track of them throughout the recruitment process.
-Technology is now allowing systems to be accessible from anywhere by many different types of devices. Mobile applications are changing the educational landscape for everything from communication to classroom delivery. Students, faculty, and administration and now able to review data, obtain information, and complete tasks from anywhere at any time. And these hosted solutions through the cloud are budget friendly.
-Technology is changing the traditional classroom delivery method. No longer are classes only held in brick-n-mortar environments. On-line learning and Learning Management Systems (LMS) are significantly altering the landscape and many schools are attracting thousands of students, millions in funding, and accolades from university administrations.
-Technology is allowing institutions to capture and analyze data with never before capabilities. Dashboards and workflow capabilities allow for faster and better decisions in all areas of the institution.
-Technology is also impacting other areas of a higher education institution like classrooms getting even smarter and libraries going digital.
-And maybe the most important factor is that technological advances have (finally!) made it possible to dramatically reduce an institution’s campus automation costs, while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of its operations. Through Cloud/Software-AsA Service (SAAS) applications, institutions can now implement flexible and robust applications like Student Information Systems with low upfront costs, no new hardware to install and maintain, and simple “pay only for what you use” pricing models. For the first time, the term “budget friendly” is actually being associated with these “Next Generation” Cloud-based Campus Automation solutions.
As stated earlier, higher education institutions are facing ever-accelerating challenges on both fronts; revenue and expenses. Per Fr. Charles Sikorsky, LC, JD, JCL, President of The Institute for the Psychological Sciences, “Private institutions without government backing often cannot kick the can down the road. They need to innovate in order to survive.”
What will higher education leadership do? Stay tuned for the answers, institution by institution.
FLAGSHIP Education Systems, http://www.flagshiphe.com, in partnership with Microsoft and their Azure Cloud Platform, is the creator of FLAGSHIP. FLAGSHIP is a cloud-based, integrated, fully-featured student information system affordable by small and medium-sized higher education institutions. FLAGSHIP’s mission statement is to deliver large school functionality at small school prices. For more information, please contact Ron Howe at ron.howe(at)flagshiphe.com or 314-378-6974. Please stop by and visit us in Booth #402 at the ABACC Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida in February, 2013.