3 Ways to Address the Cost/Quality Challenge Facing Higher Ed: Lessons from the Healthcare Sector

Shelves of books

Series: Costs Down, Quality Up

Historically, initiatives to improve quality have also meant added cost—smaller class sizes, more faculty who conduct research, etc.—but this is no longer a sustainable model for all institutions. What are the innovations that can actually drive the cost to educate a student lower while driving critical outcomes like student success and completion higher? This series offers provocative questions that challenge the cost-quality paradigm and the old ways of managing institutional strategy and growth.

Also in this series:

by James E. "Cid" Seidelman

3 Ways to Address the Cost/Quality Challenge Facing Higher Ed: Lessons from the Healthcare Sector

In a previous article in this series, I noted that many colleges and universities are trapped in the thinking that quality can only be increased if costs are increased. This is a paradigm we have to challenge if we are to find a sustainable business model for our colleges and universities. At the end of that article, I issued this call to action: "Let’s empower our colleges and universities to learn from the success of other organizations and other industries."

Healthcare, for example, has a number of success stories where unnecessary procedures have been eliminated, clinical outcomes have improved, patient engagement has increased, and costs have been reduced or eliminated. This is what tackling the cost-quality paradigm looks like.

Healthcare is a powerful analogue for higher education, because while there are certainly distinct differences between the delivery of education and the delivery of healthcare, these two industries do share much in common:

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