Higher Education: Navigating Through Changes

Online education is soaring past traditional colleges in astronomical proportions.  At the same time, funding from traditional revenue streams is diminishing rapidly.  As a hot topic at both the SCUP 47 Conference and NACUBO 2012 Annual Meeting, the trend of less funding and increased online education impact how higher education operates now and their success in the future.

Newly released U.S. Department of Education data finds that four big universities (University of Phoenix, Walden University, Grand Canyon University and National University), operating mostly online, have quickly become the largest education schools in the USA.  Last year the four — three of which are for-profit — awarded one in 16 bachelor’s degrees and post-graduate awards and nearly one in 11 advanced education awards, including master’s degrees and doctorates.  In USA Today, check out the comparison chart 2001-2011 of the degrees online by state.  For example, University of Phoenix awarded 72 education degrees in 2001 and 5,976 education degrees in 2011; whereas Arizona State University, one of the USA’s largest traditional education schools, awarded 2,075 degrees total, mostly on campus.

One way that universities are creatively funding higher education while expanding their online programs is Liberty University, an accredited private university with 12,500 residential students and 80,000+ studying online which combined make them the nation’s 7th largest four-year university and the largest university in Virginia.  Liberty University keeps their tuition low through Corporate Education Partnership in which innovative employers provide accredited education in the workforce for over 115 areas of study.

In the NACUBO session “The Changing Financial Model of Public Universities,” John Cavanaugh, Chancellor of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; Elson Floyd, President of Washington State University, Richard Lariviere, Former President of University of Oregon; and David Strauss, Principal of Art and Science Group discussed the relentless decline of state funding for public higher education and the decision to move to semi-private-institution model.  However, such model changes have political and public consequences as higher tuition and increased financial aid must be balanced with political risks, price concerns and the perception of reduced access.  These issues affect finances, public policy, and university strategy and planning.

University leaders are looking for help to navigate these complex challenges.  As we stated in the our blog “Insider Scoop on SCUP 47,” institutions want service providers to understand their business and political issues, get involved and offer answers.  Now is the time for service providers to come in, conceptualize the institution’s problems and offer help with solutions.  We coach service providers who need help figuring out these issues and facilitate project delivery partners who can mutually benefit through insightful solutions.


References and Links:

USA Today, August 7, 2012

SCUP 47 (Society for College and University Planning) 2012 Annual, International Conference & Idea Marketplace, “Make No Isolated Plans:  Integrated Planning for Educational Quality” in Chicago, IL

NACUBO 2012 (National Association of College and University Business Officers) “Looking Back…Leading Forward” Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.


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