Take a walk on campus and ask the first five people you encounter for directions to the office of institutional research (IR). Here’s betting you get five puzzled looks.
Researchers have always operated in the background. Men and women sitting in rooms, poring over spreadsheets and databases, searching for answers to the problems that plague our institutions: logistics, enrollment, academics, completion. The list goes on.
It stands to reason that a highly competitive student would want to get into a highly competitive institution.
Likewise, most institutions want to attract students who are primed for success. But, as more students pursue the promise of a higher education, competition for seats at the nation’s top-flight colleges and universities has reached a fever pitch.
Backed by a challenge from President Obama and several national education organizations, the nation’s colleges and universities have actively embraced the completion agenda, implementing countless pilot projects and initiatives to keep students enrolled and progressing toward their academic goals.
What keeps your institution running day after day, year after year? Students and infrastructure are a huge part of your ecosystem, but few resources are as critical to your success as top-notch faculty and staff.
The makeup of the traditional student body continues to change. Colleges and universities still enroll plenty of eager high school graduates in pursuit of two- and four-year degrees. But, increasingly, institutions also enroll older students, many of whom return to college to upgrade their skills in pursuit of a second or third career.
Remember when people talked about “the cloud” as if it were some vague futuristic concept? Few people claimed to know exactly what the cloud was, or how it worked. But just about everybody agreed that it was going to change the future of computing in higher education.
Higher education is percolating with talk about the promise of big data. You can’t attend a higher-education conference or even have a conversation about student success without the topic cropping up.
When it comes to student retention, there’s no shortage of opinions on campus. Everybody seems to have an idea for what their college or university needs to do to keep students enrolled and engaged. And here’s the thing: Some of those ideas might actually work.
No matter how promising a new technology innovation might sound to your institution, the choice to invest in new tools and resources comes down to a business decision — or what finance teams call a “cost-benefit” analysis.
Colleges and universities have a reputation for being decentralized, with many departments operating independently of one another. This decentralized structure has arguably been nurtured for decades in support of faculty independence and the resulting academic freedom that drives new thinking and research. That’s the good news.