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Meet the Expert
Consultant, Casagrande Consulting
- Former College president and university chancellor with more than 30 years experience in public and private education.
- Specializes in strategic turnaround for "fragile" private, non-profit institutions of higher education, consulting with small- to mid-size private institutions of higher education facing threats to their viability.
- Also consults in areas of online educational readiness, presidential performance assessment, institutional vitality assessment and turnaround planning, and board effectiveness.
- Higher education experience includes more than 13 years as institutional president, chancellor, and chief operating officer. These include stints at large public and private universities with worldwide reach as well as small local colleges struggling to survive.
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Business Model Innovation for Higher Education Institutions, Their Boards and Presidents
Consultant, Casagrande Consulting
- The relevance and value of the traditional college education is increasingly coming under fire from a variety of stakeholders.
- The challenges faced by the millennial generation have become a part of our national dialogue. Many students graduate with crushing debt and face poor prospects for employment. Many have become so-called "boomerang kids" who leave for college or university only to return to their parents' homes. This sociological phenomenon has led the wider society to question the value of a traditional four-year college education.
The news media has featured stories questioning its value, while, at the same time, more and more students no longer fit the profile of the 18- to 22-year-old right out of high school. If institutions of higher education do not innovate, they may experience a backlash against higher education, with an even larger decrease in enrollments. This will put greater pressure on their tuition-based business model. The survival of many of these institutions is at stake.
- Technology continues to perform as a sector disruptor, with the growth of online learning.
- New technology that enables distance learning is a promising development. Some schools have embraced this innovation and opened up new revenue streams thereby. For others, new technology is seen as simply a disruptor, another source of competition that vies with traditional, four-year programs. Unfortunately, for those mired in the traditional business model, technology is here to stay and with it the online distance-learning environment. Institutions need to learn about the technology and leverage it, but as part of a strategic effort to revamp the business model. Technology is not a magic pill, but it may form an important part of an overall effort toward business model innovation.
- The “new majority” of college-attending students are not the traditional 18- to 22-year-olds.
- Institutions of higher education are realizing that an increasingly larger proportion of their students are not the traditional 18- 22-year-olds who enter four-year institutions directly after graduating from secondary schools. Many of these non-traditional students are working adults who are balancing their educational aspirations with the demands of work and their families, as well as personal and community interests. They are primarily interested in the career-enhancing value of education.
Many of these non-traditional students are not interested in the amenities and culture that we associate with collegiate life (for example, intercollegiate athletics) and would easily forego the costs associated with them if they were able to uncouple those costs. Boards and presidents need to find innovative ways to address the needs of this growing constituency among their student bodies.
- At a time when students are seeking a more practical, vocation-related education, employers are increasingly seeking the kinds of graduates who possess “emotional intelligence” as well as job and career skills.
- Students today seek an education that enhances their career potential, but many institutions are not focused on the skills that employers are seeking. Many employers find that recent graduates, especially those in the traditional 18-22 age bracket, are not prepared for jobs when they graduate. Employers are looking for hard, technical skills but they are also seeking less-tangible skills, such as emotional intelligence. Institutions of higher education need to become more informed and better connected with employers across a range of sectors to ensure that the "product" that emerges from institutions of higher learning meets the genuine needs of the job and career market.
- Growth in administration and management has far outpaced what is essentially stagnant or declining growth in the numbers of those who teach full time.
- As complexity has increased under the current business model, the need for more professional management and the sheer number of managers has increased. The growth in middle management is driven, among other factors, by the complex regulatory requirements schools face today as well as an institution's need to compete on the basis of providing a dizzying array of student support services. This means that schools are spending more and more on overhead that does not contribute directly to the student's education.
At the same time, attempts to control costs has meant a decrease in the number of full-time faculty corresponding with a growth in the numbers of part-time adjuncts. A bureaucracy of middle-managers has increased as full-time faculty, engaging in the student-facing work of teaching and scholarship, has decreased. The tail is beginning to wag the dog but few institutions have an answer for this situation.
Business Model Innovation for Higher Education Institutions, Their Boards and Presidents: Key Trends