Overcoming the Heavy Weight of Tradition: A Practical Approach

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 Marcel J. Dumestre, Ed.D.

The media is rife with predictions about a significant increase in university closings and mergers over the next decade. In fact, this dire higher education meme has become so commonplace that it has lost its cautionary impact. And that is a mistake.

More than a decade into the 21st Century, it is becoming increasingly evident that the traditional university business model is moving many institutions into an at-risk status. Consider:

  • The cost of attendance has increased at an inflationary rate over the past three decades, outpacing the middle class's ability to afford it.
  • The private university discount rate (scholarships and grants) is at about 50%, but nearly one half of institutions are still not able to reach enrollment goals.
  • State universities have lost 30% to 50% of governmental support since the 2007-09 Great Recession.

Why, then, are we not seeing massive changes in at-risk universities?


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