State of higher education in 2015

The 2015 edition of the State of higher education report offers an in-depth focus on trending issues and obstacles…and solutions and alternative approaches. State of higher education in 2015

Performance assessments, overhauls of cost and revenue strategies, innovations in reaching a new kind of student, sustainability in its different forms, and the complexities brought by evolutions in technology — online learning, cloud computing, cost modeling and analytics. These and other topics are covered in this report. The articles are the result of practical, hands-on experience gained by more than 400 Grant Thornton LLP professionals serving over 200 higher education clients.

We hope that you find The state of higher education in 2015 to be a valuable resource.

Browse these articles:

5 top trends to grapple with in 2015
2014 is gone but not forgotten, as some higher education challenges have followed us into 2015. Challenges that began to form in the past years have gained strength and speed to become viable trends. These five will surely top your list.

Open new doors for your future student
Serving current and future students calls for exploring and implementing institutional changes in the delivery of academic offerings and student support services, and for fully understanding evolving student needs and interests.

Meet your revenue challenges with new strategies
Demographic trends leading to lower enrollment levels are a revenue concern for colleges and universities. They are striving to maintain long-term success and adequate levels of enrollment and revenue without sacrificing academic quality by lowering application standards.

Enhancing financial performance through strategic business analysis
To balance financial results and mission-driven outcomes, higher education leaders are performing strategic business analyses (SBAs) to transform their operating model and bottom-line financial performance.

Enhancing the strategic value of the financial function

Higher education finance professionals are increasingly asked to offer insights and deliver greater strategic value to long-term planning and resource allocation decision-making.  

University cost management modeling: Moving beyond spreadsheets

Leading-edge institutions implement a university cost management model (UCMM) to achieve greater insight into their financial performance. A UCMM links general ledger, facilities, HR, student records and course schedule data to create a true management information system.

Taking a hard look at what drives instructional costs
Given limited ability to raise tuition and fees, along with declining federal/state funding, higher education institutions must focus on ways to free up funds through strategic cost reductions and reallocations.

Ensure business-driven DR/BCP
Leadership in disaster recovery/business continuity planning (DR/BCP) in higher education is shifting from reliance on technologists and toward sharing responsibilities with the business side.

When 1 plus 1 is greater than 2
In addition the benefits of joining forces with another institution, preparing for a merger has proven critical in attaining eventual success. Prepare by evaluating alignment of objectives, communicating with stakeholders and performing due diligence.

Cloud computing’s next step — Recognizing, managing risk
Cloud computing is transforming IT and business models in higher education, as it is in every industry. Institutional leaders are planning appropriate ways to adopt it.

Look to internal audit to enhance performance evaluation
Higher education stakeholders rely on performance measurement to make informed decisions. Institutions should evaluate key indicators to assess performance in achieving mission and strategic objectives.

New financial reporting calls for smart communication
The new financial reporting model will provide comparability on operations results among colleges and universities. But because it won’t lead to more transparency in the cost of education, institutions will have to do a better job of explaining how education and student services are funded.

Prove community value to avoid a PILOT
To avoid payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) imposed by city government, higher education institutions should prove their community worth in various ways.

Implementation tips: Federal uniform grant guidance
Recipients of federal grants are operating under the changed framework of rules for awards received on or after Dec. 26, 2014. Seven tips can guide your institution through the implementation process.

Download the full State of Higher Education in 2015 report (PDF).
See our State of the Not-for-Profit Sector in 2015 report.