Graduation rate expectations and budget cuts: The state of ECM in higher education in 2011

The state of ECM in higher education in 2011Ten years ago, the U.S. was considered the most educated nation in the world. Today, it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. 

Realizing this, the Oval Office is pushing to improve this measure. Specifically, the goal it’s presenting is to increase the number of college degree-holding U.S. citizens from 40 percent to 60 percent in the next 10 years.

But, of course, here’s the catch – the keepers of the budgets – the states – are almost all cutting education funding, making a spending increase for universities to get more staffing very, very unlikely.

So how in the world are colleges and universities going to graduate an extra eight million people with two-and four-year degrees by 2020 without additional funding or resources? 

Since the down economy hit, the “do more with less” mantra has been quite loud – and the federal push will likely elevate it to a full-blown yell. If colleges and universities are going to even come close to meeting these goals, they’d better learn quickly to put this mantra into practice.

But it’s the question of how to put it into practice that trips them up. Luckily, University Business recently tackled a similar initiative. Throughout the year, they’ve been featuring higher education institutions which have taken steps in the right direction to maximum efficiency, which, most of the time, is led by an enterprise software deployment or two.

While I could go on about enterprise content management (ECM) strategies and workflow tools, I think this one is better told with a story. Here’s how Boston University (BU) had a challenge – one much like what universities will soon encounter in the coming years – and how they dealt with it:

BU’s problem was too many applicants. Most would consider this a good problem to have. But for the enrollment department, it was impossible to keep up.

Once they identified their information strategy and chose the software products to align with it (disclosure, one of these products is OnBase), the office had a brand new process for handling admissions. No longer restricted to a single physical file, multiple staff members could review applications simultaneously. 

This resulted in more thoughtful and well-informed decisions. But as most infomercials go, “but wait – there’s more”: By the time the university’s notification date had rolled around, staff had sent out the largest number of decisions in the school’s history.

By making more informed decisions and getting those decisions in the hands of prospective students faster, BU is at an advantage for admitting the best-fit students for their institution. And, of course, the better the fit, the more likely those students will graduate to become successful BU alumni. 

Sounds like the perfect antidote to an overload of student applications – and a federal mandate to up the graduation rate.

Here’s the entire article about how BU became a Model of Efficiency with ECM.

Ian Levine

If you've ever worked with the higher education industry, you know they expect vendors to really know their market inside and out. Good thing Ian Levine does. He's Hyland's director of higher education solutions, and has more than a decade of experience in the space. Specifically, he has successfully designed and implemented more than 80 systems and directed 40 other implementations in universities. These impressive stats even got him recommended for the Master of Information Technologies distinction from AIIM International. Want to tap into his expertise? E-mail works best: ian.levine@onbase.com.

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