Universities are facing revenue challenges AND a quickly changing digital landscape. So how do higher education institutions attract students, increase graduation rates, and continue to increase revenue? By increasing enrollment with a clear strategy and accurate, timely data. To increase enrollment, institutions must have a sound strategic plan that is not only actionable but data-driven. President Washington focused on DE&I enrollment strategies for a more diverse student population and at the same time, exceeded revenue gaps caused by the Global pandemic. Attain Partners leveraged a proven framework that encompasses a comprehensive stakeholder outreach methodology. With a clear strategy in place, Salesforce can be used to unite data from across an institution in one central location to ensure the university is driving towards its desired outcomes.
Here are the takeaways from the Changemaker video:
Equality Starts with Education
Rob Acker, Salesforce.org Chief Customer Officer, brings up a staggering fact: “According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of college students will ultimately be working in jobs that don’t currently exist ten years from now, and it has profound impacts on education.” To further complicate the issue, President Gregory N. Washington of George Mason University (GMU) adds that around 39 million Americans have some college and no degree.
Enrollment is declining at higher educational institutions, and campuses need data to make informed decisions on how to best bring in revenue. Since education is linked to equality, one of Salesforce’s core values, it’s more important than ever for institutions to prepare for the future. In doing so, they can shift toward a more just, equitable strategy that will help learners from all backgrounds.
Adapting to the Changes in Higher Education
Washington sees four significant trends in higher education that academic institutions should use to engage with learners and local communities as enrollment decreases. He starts with what he dubs on-ramps and off-ramps. On-ramps are ways in which institutions can attract and engage learners into academic programs, aside from the traditional high school to college pipeline. For example, GMU plans to engage more adult learners than they have in the past. On the other end, off-ramps are ways in which learners can obtain credentials or certificates through more efficient pathways than the traditional four-year degree.
The second trend is data. “Everything is data-driven. We admit somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of the students who apply, and we graduate 73% of those students on the backend. And we do that through predictive analytics and student advising”, Washington says. Higher education institutions use data to make informed decisions from recruiting and enrollment through graduation.
The third trend is the need for new revenue models. State support for higher education has been declining for ten years. There was some assistance during the COVID pandemic, but that will disappear as we shift to an endemic phase.
Partnerships, which are more important than ever, are the fourth trend. National internship and partnership programs, co-branded facilities, and other community-based relationships can help fill the revenue gap. An example is GMU’s facility in Arlington, Virginia (Virginia Science and Technology Campus) that brings industry and academics together. As a result, students directly interact with companies and come out of their academic program with work experience.
Creative Planning to Meet Revenue Goals
Susan Tobes, Sr. Director Strategic Growth at Attain Partners, agrees and cites other opportunities at universities similar to GWU. “The thing that we are working on with so many of our institutions is because enrollments are projected to decline, and the cost of tuition continues to rise, what we’re seeing is nontraditional education, nontraditional learning, growing at rapid rates, continuing education, professional development, are all things that universities are growing in, in a huge way.”
Tobes continues, “There are universities that have never had continuing ed programs rolling out large programs today that are bringing in huge dollars. There is all that intellectual capital with the professors and knowledge that they have about marketing, business, technology that they can share with commercial entities. So many of our partners are investing in business development teams and corporate relations teams that sell services to organizations.”
Using Data to Plan for the Future
The future of higher education will look different in terms of recruiting and how organizations will adapt to the post-COVID academic world. With enrollment declining, new recruiting strategies will be critical. Institutions will also have to take a nontraditional approach by using data to determine which populations are growing and have the best chance of enrollment. For example, according to Washington, data shows that Latinx populations are growing while others are stagnant or shrinking. One approach could be to target Latinx populations with Spanish language materials and information.
Tobes cites several ways in which higher education institutions will use data to strategically plan: to learn how to engage students on a personal level, to find out how they can best use their buildings and land when classes aren’t scheduled, and to use their facilities to bring in revenue from corporate sponsorships and partnerships.
Higher education institutions can use data to help plan and pivot to meet revenue goals and better serve their communities. In turn, they will help learners thrive and meet their academic goals – a win for everyone.
Attain Partners – Salesforce Experts
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