Rather than work internally to target instances of inefficiency, the college has chosen to hire an outside firm that will recommend the best means to cut costs. On Aug. 23, the college announced Huron Consulting Group will evaluate support functions this fall to lessen costs on campus.
Because the college is worried about future increases in tuition costs, reducing costs is necessary.But efforts should also be made to bring in more students, especially in light of low enrollment numbers this year. Since those in charge of managing admissions failed to meet their enrollment target, the consulting group should take extra care to focus on “enrollment management.” At Wayne State University, for example, Huron helped identify students to attract and retain by using a strategic plan for managing enrollment.
Huron Consulting has worked with more than 60 other higher education institutions. Case studies from the University of Florida and other large, public research universities, such as Georgia Tech and Northern Kentucky University, suggest the group helps improve financial aid notification, streamlines contracts for suppliers and reduces wasteful spending. In other instances, the firm has recommended aligning human resources across campuses, eliminating duplicate technology services and consolidating central offices.
The college’s academic departments and programs will be reviewed separately from Huron’s evaluation. It’s not yet known what effect that will have on faculty and staff. Efficiency and affordability are important, but the steering committee should take care not to eliminate resources that students, staff and faculty need.