#HigherEd Forecast: Tough Choices Ahead

tough choices aheadInside Higher Ed’s survey of college business officers forecasts hard choices ahead for many of the nation’s colleges and universities.

Only 42 percent of college and university CFOs believe their institution’s business model is sustainable over the next decade. Eighty-two percent say they’ll address financial challenges by increasing enrollment.

Some will succeed with an increased enrollment strategy, but many recruitment efforts will falter against changing demographics, increasing competition and rising tuition costs.

Unfortunately, more business chiefs and their institutions will have to weather tough financial times by making harder and more painful decisions.

Some, like the University of Akron, are making tough calls today, but most aren’t. Less than 40 percent of survey respondents say their institutions are exploring administrative partnerships with other colleges, eliminating under-performing academic programs or reducing administrative positions.

That number will surely increase as escalating financial challenges force more institutions to consider alternatives beyond enrollment increases.

As finances get tougher on campus, business leaders would do well to communicate early and often with audiences beyond the administration building so that everyone understands the issues and the options being considered to deal with them.

For example, just 32 percent of business officers agree that their institution’s faculty members understand the financial challenges it faces. Only 33 percent report faculty members supporting efforts to address them.

These figures suggest critical gaps in internal communications – which often take a backseat to external marketing, but are just as important. 


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