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The Modern Campus: Challenges and Opportunities for HCM

Guest Author

By Joseph Clay, Vice President – Human Capital Management Transformation at Oracle

The landscape for higher education is changing rapidly with greater emphasis on student experience, value creation, and affordability.  In our webcast “The Modern Campus:  Challenges and Opportunities for Human Capital Initiatives” we examine how HR can best leverage these changes to influence and perhaps even drive strategy for their institutions.  Together with John Kiss, Senior Manager, Risk & Internal Audit, and Jeffery Haynes, Director Human Capital Services for Baker Tilly, we’ve explored the current challenges facing Higher Education and discussed how HR can play an integral role in helping institutions deliver on strategies and achieve greater success.  

What are the critical challenges for Colleges and Universities?

Higher Education is experiencing an early phase of a disruptive change.  Advances in technology, new paths for obtaining a degree, ongoing tuition increases, and alternative funding practices are just a few components of this change.  Last year, Oracle partnered with University Business on a survey of business, finance and executive leaders in Higher Education to identify the most critical challenges facing their institutions. Over 70% identified developing new sources of revenue as a top concern, 67% identified containing or reducing costs, 63% retaining students, 54% competing for new students and finally 48% listed upgrading technology systems and business processes as a top opportunity.  Is the HR function in your institution prepared to play a role as Higher Education continues changing?  Let’s take a closer look at some of these disruptive factors.

  • Technology is transforming the classroom
    John Kiss of Baker Tilly provided a great overview during our webcast on the classroom of the future.  He talked about how futurists predicted that “Information technology will have a greater, more transmogrifying effect on higher education than on any other industry or profession”.  As modalities for delivering content continue evolving, what are the HR implications for attracting, hiring and engaging the faculty talent of the future?
     
  • Students have more learning options
    Today, students have more ways of receiving and interacting with educational content. Massive Open Online Courses or (MOOCS) provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance a career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale.  Accreditation Unbundling will one day allow students to take a “best of breed” approach, choosing courses from a variety of institutions and applying them for credit. On-Line Degrees and fieldwork-based classrooms will allow more students to be engaged by even fewer professors. Portable academic experiences and more flexible payment models will provide greater options for a more digitally native, mobile and diverse student population. These modalities offer new ways to engage students at a time when the appetite for traditional four-year degrees is dropping. How can HR best prepare their leadership to be flexible and agile in the face of these competitive challenges?    
     
  • Tuition and collage debt are increasing
    The class of 2016 graduated with the most student debt ever with an average student loan of just over $37,000. Tuition increases and greater student debt has increased pressure on institutions to find ways to offer high quality education at the most affordable price. How is the HR function valued by your institution? At a time when understanding success profiles for top students and top talent is at an all-time high, how are you helping leaders make better decisions?       
     
  • Funding priorities are shifting
    States are responding to the growth in student debt by placing greater emphasis on performance outcome criteria to determine funding. North Dakota is one of only two states to have maintained their fiscal 1980 investment in higher education through 2011. The remaining 48 states have reduced their overall funding commitment imposing more “outcome” based accountability on institutions.  If the trends continue, funding based on enrollment will eventually be replaced by funding tied to performance.  

The Implications for HR

Many HR functions in higher education have a structural disadvantage because their budgets have historically been around 50% - 75% lower than other industries. Under-investment in the function has resulted in slower adoption of leading practices and a tendency to focus more on compliance and risk mitigation activities. A 2013-14 HR systems survey by CedarCrestone revealed extremely low adoption levels for workforce analytics, social media, business intelligence tools, and workforce /talent management. In fact, 97% of the survey participants identified HR as a heavily administrative function.  Today, as institutions strive to anticipate, adapt and manage the changing higher education landscape, HR must become a more proactive partner.  

Closing this gap offers HR an opportunity to redefine its traditional administrative role. The first step to closing the gap involves making an informed investment decision in more modern technology. Jeffery Haynes of Baker Tilly provided an overview of the latest research on how HR leaders are starting to make investing in modern, integrated HCM tools a priority.  You can hear the discussion in the webcast about how HR leaders are starting to better understand how developing modern, sophisticated HR programs can lead to better student outcomes. A National Survey of Student Engagement determined the following, “Today’s student success is strongly correlated with the extent to which students interact with supportive adults on campus, both inside and outside the classroom.” 

As you can see, these are highly disruptive and exciting times in Higher Education. The historical gap in HR funding and the subsequent focus on solely administrative work limited its ability to support the critical needs of the institution.  Today, however, Human Resource leaders are aware of the need for change and see investing in technology as part of the solution.  

Listen to the webcast “The Modern Campus:  Challenges and Opportunities for Human Capital Initiatives” to learn more about the real opportunity for HR leaders to to shift the focus to modern, sophisticated HR programs like Talent Acquisition and Talent Management for reducing costs, and even driving student success.

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