Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Building Sustainable Business Models in Higher Education [Podcast]

In the following podcast, Sarah Sedlak, a Business Development Manager of SC&H Group, and Mike Lawler, a Senior Manager at SC&H Group, discuss some of the key business challenges and opportunities that were highlighted at the recent Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO) 2015 Annual Workshop.

On a continual basis, the higher education arena faces both significant opportunities and challenges when it comes to developing sustainable business models.

Today’s colleges and universities are uniquely different than they were 10 to 20 years ago, especially when it comes to recruiting the next generation of students and business officers in a time of skyrocketing tuitions.

At the EACUBO 2015 Annual Workshop, higher education leaders at discussed this and the changing landscape of the industry, which requires colleges and university to be more nimble in their business approaches.

Here are several of the business opportunities highlighted at the event:

  • Changing administrative roles by breaking down silos and building a new generation of leaders to take on the challenges of this growing industry.
  • New efforts to enhance communications between all stakeholders, including faculty, students, alumni and donors.
  • A new focus on business efficiency with an aim towards maximizing revenue and developing long-term sustainability.

However, the challenges are not insignificant, including:

  • Balancing student recruitment efforts in a time of rising tuitions. The cost of college increased 1,120 percent from 1978 to 2012.
  • The need to be more creative and flexible when it comes to revenue generation. For example, some universities are now starting to host corporate events in the summer as a new revenue stream.
  • Recruiting and retaining talented faculty in a time when personnel costs are approximately 70 percent of the overall operating expenses for universities.

From a financial perspective, colleges and universities need to explore new and more streamlined financial reporting options. The goal is to ensure that the administration and board members fully understand the financial statements to help enhance overall decision-making.

In addition, higher education institutions receiving federal grants should develop the proper controls and processes for financial grant award and reimbursements.

It is clear that the future of higher education will contain an equal mix of business opportunities and challenges. Now more than ever, colleges and universities must take a proactive approach to building sustainable business models for long-term profitability.

SC&H Group helps educational institutions develop the financial stability and transparency necessary for achieving long-term success. Serving non-profit institutions and for-profit organizations nationwide, SC&H Group’s professionals apply their expertise to provide strategic, proactive guidance through a variety of audit, tax, risk management, and consulting services.

To learn more about the firm’s services for colleges and universities, please click here.

If you are a college or university looking to develop the right business sustainability approached, we welcome you to contact Sarah and Mike here.