Higher education today faces a host of challenges, which brings one critical question to the forefront: how can the industry evolve to meet changing demands and respond to growing criticism? While some institutions are decrying “the end of higher education” as we know it, others are simply treading water to maintain the status quo in the hope that the tides will turn.
Flatlining revenues and increased costs are creating an unsustainable financial situation. Meanwhile, consumers, state and federal governments, and the mainstream media probe higher education’s value proposition. Most institutions have seen the signs and are asking difficult questions about how to respond; progressive institutions are aggressively looking for answers. We believe answers can be found in the health care industry, which experienced similar pressures across the past two decades.
How health care evolves in a changing marketplace
Health care was forced to adapt to the shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance and meet expectations for more comprehensive coordination between service providers (including the adoption of electronic medical records). And the industry continues to evolve to overcome these challenges.
How can these changes apply to the higher education world? To meet changing demands, higher education needs to be able to:
- Respond effectively to changing external incentives including greater scrutiny on outcomes and increased reporting requirements
- Improve integration across the K-16 educational pipeline, including between individual colleges and universities, and advance tracking mechanisms for student information
- Develop more effective decision support strategies for critical initiatives across campus, such as student success
- Adapt to increased demands driven by consumerism and a heavier focus on return on investment of degree offerings
The transitions in both health care and higher education hinge on improving quality outcomes and information integration. CIOs were integral to health care’s transition, and they are poised to fill a similarly critical role in higher education with new systems, emerging technologies, and successful integration and adoption being the key enablers for the changes ahead.