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College and Universities at a Tipping Point?

July 18, 2011

CBOs from all sectors of higher education can agree on a few things, at least according to the new survey results of Inside Higher Ed’s 2011 Survey of College and University Business Officers. Most survey respondents reported that the budget cuts experienced over the last three years had not done major damage to programs and services at their institutions, but any additional and significant budget cuts would hurt quality.

CBOs at public institutions say the most important issues facing their college or university in the next few years is the potential for cuts in core state funding/operating support. Both public and private sectors are worried about rising tuition and affordability, and cuts in federal student aid programs. CBOs at private institutions are concerned about the rising tuition discount rate.

The survey also revealed strategies that the public and private sectors believe will help increase revenue and cut costs. CBOs at public institutions are focusing on recruiting more out-of-state, international, and full-pay students, increasing net tuition revenue, as well as developing and expanding online programs. Private institutions will be looking to generate more revenue by securing more corporate support, grants, gifts and contracts, increasing net tuition revenue, and significantly increasing the size of the endowment.

Both public and private universities said that using metrics to analyze programs and strategies to identify problems and potential improvements would be a tactic that could help cut costs. Other cost saving approaches were to eliminate low-enrollment academic programs and make more efficient uses of facilities and technology.

For more survey results, download the Inside Higher Ed report.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis