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Resource Center

The Essential Guide to Cost Containment Strategies for Higher Education

Resources to address administrative costs in five key areas

January 18, 2023

Table of Contents

This resource center will be free to access for the month of April to highlight EAB’s cost containment research. Check out Strategic Advisory Services to learn more about how we work with higher ed strategy leaders to solve their toughest challenges.

As institutions face tightening budgets and uncertainty about future revenues, campus leaders are seeking opportunities to mitigate unnecessary costs and increase financial efficiency across every part of the enterprise: talent, administrative workflows and organizational structure, academic affairs, technology, and facilities.

In this resource center, we’ve catalogued near-term and long-term tactics for cost containment across five functional areas of colleges and universities:

Labor Cost Containment

Labor comprises 60-70% of most institutions’ operating budgets, so it’s a likely target for cost containment initiatives. That said, to sustain long-term labor savings, leaders must slow labor cost growth over time—or “bend the labor cost curve.” Our resources help leaders strategically plan for labor savings across both the short- and long-term.

Labor Resources

Workflow and Org Design Cost Containment

Every institution has opportunities to redesign processes and organizational models to improve efficiencies and service quality. Our resources help leaders and staff identify the greatest opportunities for improvement on their campus, prioritize them, and execute—to the tune of significant cost savings. They also help leaders get buy-in for change with even the most resistant staff.

Process Improvement Resources

Shared Services Resources

Organizational Design Resources

Interinstitutional Partnerships and M&A

Academic Affairs Cost Containment

Faculty and staff often correlate a reduction in academic costs with a reduction in quality. In reality, institutions can realize savings and promote excellence by reallocating existing resources to high-impact, mission-aligned activities. The resources below highlight both immediate savings opportunities from increased instructional efficiency and longer-term opportunities to increase instructional productivity and rightsize the academic portfolio.

Academic Affairs Resources

Technology and IT Services Cost Containment

Our resources help IT leaders prioritize new projects, optimize purchases, both centrally and locally, and creatively use student labor to respond to workload surges.

IT Resources

Facilities and Auxiliaries Cost Containment

Move the needle on evergreen challenges like reducing deferred maintenance backlogs, decreasing energy consumption, optimizing space utilization, and maximizing the value (and savings potential) of outsourcing and public-private partnerships.

Space Utilization Resources

Capital Projects and Deferred Maintenance Resources

Partnerships Resources

Talent Resources

Sustainability Resources