Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Education, Cost-Cutting, and the Future of Work

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

For the first time in a long time, education is high on the public agenda in the United States. Student and teacher walkouts from K12 schools across the country are shining a spotlight on the long, steady decline in public funding.

To date, higher education institutions have mostly stayed out of the fray. Yet their challenges are similar to those facing K12 schools. Public funding to colleges and universities continues to be cut in the name of fiscal prudence—leaving institutions scrambling for an ever-shrinking piece of the revenue pie, while costs continue to rise.

Unfortunately, higher education institutions can’t wait for public policy to change. Many of them are already worried about the sustainability of their business models. They are looking for ways to cut costs now to help make up for the shortfall.

New Methods of Cost Reduction

When it comes to reducing costs, technology has always been a go-to solution. In the past, higher education institutions have invested heavily in on-premises systems for finance, HR, and other key lines of business. The resulting automation significantly reduced the need for paperwork and mundane tasks that otherwise would have required more staff.

Yet these investments are showing their age. Many were implemented before the advent of mobile and social technologies; in the digital world, students want access to their information anytime, anywhere, via their mobile devices. This is driving many institutions of higher learning to look to the cloud for new software—not only because of its more modern capabilities, but because of its lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investment.

Imagining the Future

On April 29, the Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO) kicks off its annual conference in Anaheim, California. The following week, May 6-8, the Association’s counterpart for the southern region, SACUBO, holds its annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Both events offer the chance to learn about the closely-connected issues of rapid technology advancement and the future of the workforce.

Thanks to emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain and more, employers of the future will achieve higher levels of automation than ever. The impact on higher education is expected to be two-fold. One, institutions will be able to drive down costs with unprecedented levels of automation and efficiency—doing more without adding more staff. Two, the demand for higher education could increase. With so many jobs poised for automation, a university or college education will more important than ever to future employability.

A Chance to Explore New Solutions

We invite you to explore some of these issues at the upcoming events. The conferences give business officers an opportunity to explore trends in higher education and to have meaningful conversations with colleagues.

In addition, the business partner showcase is a chance to discuss challenges with knowledgeable partners and explore potential solutions. Oracle is exhibiting at booth 275 at WACUBO and will be presenting a session on “Automating Position Budgeting in a Consistent and Controlled Environment.” At SACUBO, we’ll be at booth 330.

This year, a number of sessions qualify as CPE credits—yet another incentive to attend. Registration levels are historically high this year, so sign up now to attend. 

Register to attend WACUBO in Anaheim, April 29-May 2 or SACUBO in Fort Worth, May 6-8, 2018.

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