The NACUBO Higher Education Economic Models Project was initiated to help ensure that the economic models of colleges and universities in the 21st century provide students the opportunity to enrich their minds, their lives and their communities, as well as enable institutions to pursue their missions in research and service.
To support these goals, we have gathered input from hundreds of leaders and observers of higher education to better understand the changes that are needed to ensure continued financial sustainability and the forces that inhibit that change on college and university campuses. Most recently, we have developed and tested a framework that facilitates structured inquiry and discussion about an institution’s economic model as well as serves as a framework for innovation. This website is the outgrowth of that research.
The Leadership Challenge: No Silver Bullet
As we have talked with higher education leaders, several individuals have asked us for the “silver bullet” to resolving higher education’s sustainability issues. Some, coming from the worlds of accounting and business, believe there must be an algorithm or formula that will resolve their institution’s resource shortfalls. Others believe the enrollment management mantra that “growth through effective marketing” is the solution.
While we concur that enhanced accounting and budgeting strategies can lend insight for more effective resource acquisition and deployment, and that understanding the nuances of student demand can enhance planning for delivery, we do not believe there is any singular answer to institutional sustainability. Rather, institutions must undertake a holistic review of what they do, how they do it and for whom. This requires candor and transparency, willingness to hear conflicting perspectives and courage to make difficult decisions.