Changing Higher Education Funding and Transparency Models

Using technology to drive success

How can institutions embrace transparency and flexibility around changing models of revenue and cost mix, student success and graduation rates?  This web seminar outlined some insights into how to meet student, institutional, system and/or political goals in the changing world of higher education. Whether your challenges are within a single institution or across a statewide system, there are a variety of ways in which modern technology can support your journey for future success.


Sherry Amos

Director, Market Development, Education and Government 


Looking at the confluence of trends across higher education leaders, the political environment and changing expectations among constituents, let’s explore what we see over the next five to 10 years for higher education as an industry.  These are trends that will impact every level of strategic planning for institutions large and small, public or private, from boardrooms to executive leadership and to faculty and students they serve.

There was a particularly interesting meeting that the governor of Kentucky had with the postsecondary education leadership last year. To paraphrase, the governor said, “God bless the student who wants to major in interpretive dance, but we don’t have jobs that require that kind of skill.” He went on to further suggest that each of the state-related university or educational organizations go back to their campus, get serious, and eliminate any programs that are not contributing to the economy of good, paying jobs within the state—get rid of anything that is not helping to produce the 21st century workforce.

As you can imagine, this set off quite a bit of consternation—particularly among the academic community—about politicians interfering with curriculum decisions. But this is just one example of the political environment that many colleges and universities are operating in. It directly impacts public institutions, but does spill over to private institutions, this idea to do more to connect the cost of education with the quality of education and then with how the student eventually turns that into a career or livelihood.

There are other good examples for how these trends are developing into actionable transparency metrics and changing funding models. Florida was one of the first states that implemented performance-based funding at a fairly detailed level. The Commonwealth of Virginia is trying to triangulate how students who are graduating in certain topic areas or with certain degrees are actually translating into the kind of jobs that are available within the state.

All of these are examples of data-driven decision-making, to show what’s happening between the output of the educational system and the economic viability of the local or regional capability to offer jobs and wages.

Thinking about these strategic issues, here is what we’re tracking. Millennials are the largest generational cohort ever, so we’re going to see a real growth spurt in demand on the educational systems, both at the K12 and the college and university levels. Who are Millennials, and what do they value? First of all, they are the most ethnically and racially diverse group ever. They’re very socially connected, and they have a high degree of community interest. They want to make a difference both in their roles and careers as well as in their communities. Generally, Millennials are very highly educated, very technology savvy. They’ve grown up in the age of the creation of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everything else—technology at their fingertips, every moment of the day, is simply expected. It’s how they interact. They’re socially conscious, and they’re very optimistic, even though many are underemployed. They also value balance in work-life initiatives.

What do they want to see for their own children, for the 4 million babies per year that are being born to their generation? They want to see their children graduate college. They want them to play on sports teams and to excel in sports. They want them to have highly interactive, hands-on learning experiences. And they want them to eat healthy. So, how does that translate into a bright spot for higher education? Enrollments are projected to continually go higher through the year 2023 for about 34 states. This population of children is now entering the education system through K12, and will then go into the higher education system. It has already begun.

One of the reasons that leaders of higher education are now interested in leadership development and diversity is because students want to see and learn from people who are like themselves. They want to see a diverse leadership organization. They want to see a diverse faculty. But there aren’t enough K12 teachers to handle this growth over the coming years. Those who traditionally majored in education in order to be teachers were mostly women, and that number decreased by approximately 50 percent as women started to enter other disciplines of study. We could delve deeper into what K12 is doing, as an industry, to address these challenges and the explosive student enrollment growth in many districts.

Let’s return to higher education and what leaders must think about to operate in a fully transparent political environment, find new streams of revenue, and build more diversity in faculty and staff. Data-driven decision making is now on the president’s or chancellor’s agenda for a well-run institution.  How will enrollment and admissions leaders focus new recruitment efforts to take advantage of the coming boom from Millennial children into the higher education system?  Is there such a thing as a “sustainable” funding model? What role will the continued advancement of technology play in a sound administrative and educational delivery strategy? How can you can think about changing the mix if you have both the challenges and new opportunities over the next five to 10 years? 

At Workday, we believe that the future of the industry is quite bright, despite current challenges.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit


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