Higher Education

Could you give a figure on the spot? What about the persistence rates? How are you trending? These are some questions that, if you do not know the answer, should raise a red flag.

Universities have typically relied on the institutional research department to report back to them on their admission rate. How long does that take? What is the institutional research department’s process to generate the report? How far down on the priority list is it? If your university is like most of the other ones out there, the institutional research department has been ‘streamlined’ due to a reduced budget, making this report move further and further down the list.

I recently had a conversation with an institutional research director at a mid-size university in California. She was the only person left in her department. Two years ago, she had two researchers and an administrative assistant. Since then, she has had no choice but to pick up the work of her displaced employees. I asked her what she was doing to help her cause. Jokingly, she said, “I don’t know, I’m just trying to keep up.” We both laughed, but I know it didn’t do much to make her feel better.

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I asked her about what software she used and if it had a dashboard tool. She said she does, but it was so bad that she relied on building charts using Excel. This is how she reported back to the president of the university. This process, as you can imagine, took more time away from her already overloaded responsibilities. It seems like an antiquated practice for a forward-thinking place of higher learning, doesn’t it?

She’s not alone in this fight. I am not aware of any department at a university that is getting a higher budget in July 2010. Most universities are facing 10-15% reductions, so the ones that are staying flat seem to be the lucky ones.

Universities need technology to help them be successful. Spending money on a dashboard software solution may seem a bit daunting at first, but when you have the foresight to know the benefits, a dynamic dashboard tool is a no-brainer.

Jon Salmon, iDashboards


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