An Oracle blog about Education and Research

  • April 25, 2018

Learning to Adapt to a New Higher Education Environment

Keith Rajecki
Vice President Public Sector, Education & Research


A university’s primary mission is to provide students with a quality education. Doing that requires high-quality faculty members.

Human resources (HR) departments in higher education institutions today face a big hurdle when it comes to hiring and keeping faculty: They’re hamstrung by outdated tools and systems. When potential recruits attempt to explore possible faculty positions, they too often run directly into an old-school experience that can discourage them from persisting through the process.

The Changing Face of Higher Education

The traditional higher education experience has become increasingly uncommon. Institutions are shifting away from set curricula and time-bound degrees taught by traditional, tenured staff. Today you find more continuing education programs, typically taught by adjunct faculty, who practice in the fields in which they teach. These professionals expect to see the same type of technology-enabled conveniences and services offered by their organizations’ HR departments. They are often disappointed.

Institutions are beginning to overcome these problems and improve faculty hiring and retention through cloud-based human capital management (HCM) systems. These systems bring all the common benefits of cloud-based solutions, including streamlined IT infrastructure and resource requirements, scalability, access from anywhere, and greater flexibility. Cloud solutions focused on higher education add other benefits unique to this market’s needs, including the ability to support emerging revenue streams in the industry.

Furthermore, the ability to integrate multiple HR activities, including recruiting, benefits, and staff development, simplifies processes and provides faculty with a personalized and seamless experience.

New Generation Needs, New Generation Solutions

As millennials’ share of the job market continues to grow, colleges and universities need to do a better job of attracting them to teaching positions. Legacy HR recruiting and onboarding applications are ill-suited to meet their needs, whereas cloud-based HCM systems include the social and mobile tools seen as requisites by the current generation of faculty recruits. Potential faculty members can, for example, complete the entire application process through their mobile devices.

Once on staff, they can continue to rely on mobile interfaces for routine transactional tasks like checking their vacation balance or exploring other roles within the institution. Cloud-based HCM systems open new channels, like chatbots, that provide a faster and more convenient way to complete these interactions and reduce demands on HR staff.

The cloud also supports retention efforts. Through communication and collaboration tools, faculty become strongly connected to the institution, their peers, and their students—a particularly important function with so many adjunct faculty. Cloud-based HR systems also provide a delivery channel for comprehensive development tools, customized to faculty members’ personal- and career-development aspirations.

The current generation of cloud HCM systems provide advanced capabilities that are creating better experiences for managers, employees, and students at many institutions. For instance, adaptive intelligence capabilities can identify strong candidates for open positions from within the current faculty, based on their skills, performance, and interests. Adaptive intelligence can also identify faculty members who are likely to leave the institution.

Vanderbilt University recently embarked on a transition to Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud, with the goal of modernizing business processes for its more than 6,000 employees and 3,000 student workers. The transition will provide Vanderbilt with integrating apps for a streamlined user experience and data management. Vanderbilt will also benefit from the twice-yearly updates and enhancements to Oracle’s HCM and ERP platforms, giving the university automatic access to continuous innovation.

Kentucky State University relies on the same two systems—Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud—for insights to support its operational needs. Employees now have clearer visibility into financial, procurement, and grant information, as well as access to new self-service channels—which, in turn, help faculty and staff deliver a better student experience.

Retooling Higher Education HR Systems

With modern, cloud-based HCM system, HR teams can make an important shift: They can move away from seeing faculty as employees to be managed and toward seeing faculty as customers with needs and expectations that must be met over the complete span of their careers. HR teams in higher education now have the tools to find, grow, and retain the best talent; enable collaboration; provide complete workforce insights; increase operational efficiency; and make it easy for everyone to connect on any device.

As higher education institutions continue to evolve to meet the needs of their faculty and students, while achieving their admissions and operational goals, they are increasingly relying on more flexible and agile cloud-based solutions.

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