Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

A Cool Way to Grow Revenue in Higher Education

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

What if attracting, enrolling and retaining students were as easy as this video? And, other than the cool factor, why should finance professionals care?

These questions are more important than you might think. If you’re in the finance department of any post-secondary institution, you know the enrollment and funding challenges that higher education organizations are facing across the United States.

And if you work in any other sector, this video gives you a glimpse of what the future of finance in any industry might look like.

So: one cool video, two important questions. Let me address them in reverse order.

Why should finance professionals care?

My colleague Gary Allen recently wrote about the funding challenges facing higher education. In a nutshell, enrollments are predicted to begin a long decline in 2018, and that spells bad news for revenue. For most colleges and universities in the United States, enrollment is their number one source of funding.

Other funding models are changing, too. Traditionally, public funding was provided on a per capita basis: the more students enrolled, the more money the institution received. Today, many governments have moved away from that model. Close to three-quarters of states now base some or all educational funding on performance outcomes.

To make up for the shortfall, institutions of higher learning are turning to new sources of funding. Some are partnering with corporations. Some are looking overseas. Still others are turning to continuing education, expanding their existing programs and launching new ones to attract adult learners—which requires innovative marketing and recruitment tactics, such as those outlined in the above video.

All of this complicates the job of finance teams that are tasked with planning, budgeting and forecasting revenue over the long term. Strapped for both staff and cash, finance teams must run numbers full of uncertainties with tools that were never designed to take these new business models into account.

Rather than relying on spreadsheets, which are time-consuming and error-prone, finance leaders at colleges and universities are looking for better, more cost-effective tools to help them plan and manage all sources of funding.

What if managing students were as easy as asking a personal assistant?

Well, that just raises another question: Where would I find this assistant?

Answer: Oracle Student Cloud. We're introducing our newest adaptive intelligence capability—a virtual personal assistant to learn and adapt along the student journey—anticipating student needs, recommending an academic path for them, and empowering them for success. 

Oracle’s virtual assistant was on display at Oracle OpenWorld and Educause a couple of months ago. If you missed it, you have an opportunity to see it again in this webcast (as well as in the above-mentioned video).

Even for finance professionals outside higher education, Oracle’s virtual assistant is of interest. Although this use case is primarily for attracting, enrolling and retaining students, it’s an industry-specific example of other AI capabilities that are headed to the finance function. Already, we’re seeing artificial intelligence/machine learning that can analyze supplier behavior and recommend more favorable terms—helping to optimize cash on hand.

Emerging technologies such as AI/ML, blockchain and more are poised to change the way the finance function works, in ways that we’ve only begun to imagine. And, keep in mind, these new technologies are only available in the cloud. On-premises systems simply cannot be changed or updated quickly enough to support the continuous onslaught of new capabilities. As a result, the drive to modernize finance suddenly has more urgency than it did even a year ago.

Join Oracle to understand our strategy for the next generation of student information systems in higher education. You’ll learn how to support student success, understand how new capabilities can drive enrollment and revenue, and get a glimpse of the future.

Register now to watch the webcast.  

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