How to Dislodge Course and Program Proliferation

Posted by William F. Massy on May 5, 2020 11:10:34 AM

Dislodging Events A Potential Curb on Course and Program Proliferation

Steve Probst’s recent blog on curricular efficiency reminded me how serious the course and Dense forestprogram proliferation problem has become for America’s colleges and universities. For example, my forthcoming book reports that:

“Many programs persist beyond what should have been their sell-by dates. In one dataset reported by Bob Zemsky, for example, a daunting 48 percent of programs turned out ten or fewer graduates per year and collectively accounted for only 7 percent of all degrees granted . Bob puts the matter succinctly: “We [colleges] give students what they want. Most colleges can’t afford to do so without understanding why they can’t.” This doesn’t mean all low-enrollment programs should go on trial, but campuses do need serious and well-informed conversations on the matter” (p. 6).

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics, Course Costs


Data in a Time of Quarantine

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 22, 2020 10:07:50 AM

How To Gauge Shifts in Student Demand and Employment Caused by the Pandemic

Just as the novel coronavirus has disrupted our lives, it is changing the societal context for higher education. More specifically, the programs students want and whether they want to take them online or on-campus have undergone massive changes, as have job options for interns Close up of businesswoman holding graphs in handand graduates. Colleges need data on “what just happened” so they can correctly understand and respond to their new context.

Traditional data on higher education and employment won’t help much in the short term. IPEDS data on 2020 enrollment and completions will not be published until 2021 or 2022. The same is true for BLS data on employment by Standard Occupation Code.

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Current Data, Student Demand, Data


Cutting Academic Cost: If You Must, Here's How

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 14, 2020 11:32:01 AM

Cutting Academic Costs and Improving Curricular Efficiency
If You Must, Here’s How

COVID-19 will require deep cost cuts at many colleges, or they simply won’t survive. It is unpleasant, even disturbing work. But like all work, it can be done well or badly, quickly or slowly. Bad cuts unnecessarily damage the mission and people. Bad cuts drag on and undermine Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 11.19.29 AMmorale and confidence in leadership. They are usually the result of short-sighted thinking, incomplete or erroneous information and data, bad information, and lack of courage. Good cuts use sound data and robust, fast processes to create a leaner, financially sustainable, mission-centered institution. Here’s how.

Topics: Program Margin, Curricular Efficiency, Course Costs


Achieving Curricular Efficiency

Posted by Steve Probst on Apr 8, 2020 2:43:39 PM

What if reducing overhead costs and cutting too-small programs were not the only practical ways to control college costs?

If a department offers five electives to serve 75 students, then the average class size for these electives would be 15 students. If the department adds another elective, all six electives would be likely to have enough students to justify offering these classes under typical policies. shutterstock_648204952However, the department would have just added to teaching load – and costs and potentially staffing – without increasing the actual amount of teaching and learning being done.

Topics: Higher Education, Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics


Changing the Conversation

Posted by William F. Massy on Feb 13, 2020 2:01:46 PM

I’ve been writing a lot here about how modern analytics can help a college or university make better academic program portfolio decisions. For example, which programs, if any, should be expanded, downsized, or eliminated. These are mission-critical because it is through degree and other formally organized programs that institutions present their teaching prowess to the marketplace. Faculty usually focus on individual courses, but students look at programs when they decide which school to attend and what they say about it to their parents and peers. Thinking about program portfolios holistically helps schools compete in the marketplace, serve students better, and manage course availabilities and staffing more effectively. These matters fall squarely into the wheelhouse of both academic and financial officers.

Topics: Programs and Cities, Undertanding Student demand, Programs, College Courses, Curricular Efficiency