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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Chief Academics Ring the Alarm on the State of Higher Education

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

The state of higher education continues to be in flux as institutions face tough choices about their future. 

Colleges and universities are stretching their resources, trying to reduce rising costs while maintaining the quality of education for students. Many institutions are implementing serious cutbacks to work in this new reality, and it affects how chief academic officers view their role within higher education and the overall state of education. 

The 2020 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) offers a worrying snapshot of the challenges facing CAOs and their institutions. 

CAOs are being asked to do more with less. They’re concerned about their ability to launch new academic programs and make investments that will keep their organizations aligned to a fast-changing, digitally-driven world. At the same time, they’re trying to minimize the impact of financial cutbacks on students trying to further their education: 

  • They’re becoming more pessimistic about the future of liberal arts education. Half of the CAOs surveyed agree it’s in decline in the U.S., and 60% expect to see the number of liberal arts institutions in the U.S. decline over the next five years. 
  • Nearly three-quarters of CAOs surveyed are alarmed by the trend of colleges shutting down majors or departments, particularly in the humanities. Roughly 37% say their own colleges have shut down departments or majors in the past two years. 
  • More CAOs disagree (43%) than agree (37%) that their institution’s financial situation has improved in the past year. A majority of CAOs also disagree that the 2008 economic downturn is effectively over at their institutions, as they continue to feel its effects.

Data helps bolster efforts to overcome challenges

In this challenging reality, responses indicate that data is helping higher ed institutions become future-ready. Nearly three-quarters of CAOs (73%) say their institution makes effective use of data to measure student outcomes. Over half (51%) say that their college regularly changes curriculum and programs based on assessment outcomes, and 46% agree that these efforts have led to better teaching and learning at their college. 

Institutions that know how to use their data to improve student outcomes are the most likely to survive and thrive in this new reality. Facing these challenges will be next to impossible if institutions choose to hold on to antiquated technology systems to avoid new expenditures, because this outdated technology hinders their ability to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective experience for students. 

Using cloud technology to gain ground

The reliance on data to improve outcomes is driving institutions to evaluate modern cloud technology, looking at how the cloud’s lower costs can improve the experiences of administrators and students alike. We take a closer look at how your institution can use the cloud to support student success in our webcast, Keep Students on a Path to Success with Oracle Student Cloud.

In the webcast, you’ll learn how to: 

  • Keep students engaged to meet student expectations in a personalized way
  • Provide more individualized programs that link academics with job skills
  • Build a curriculum-guided pathway in the form of a student planner
  • Manage lifelong learning and diverse academic programs on one platform
  • Deliver timely and accurate student financial aid

Register now to watch the webcast.  

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