Report details economics of some independent colleges’ programs

The Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities released a new report, “A Stronger Bottom Line: Comparing Costs, Growth Potential of Kentucky’s Independent Colleges.” The report, released in mid-September, summarizes key findings from an intensive three-year data analysis project to help participating colleges and universities better understand the economics of their academic programs in order to make informed strategic decisions and strengthen their bottom lines.
This is the first time a group of institutions with common attributes have gone through such an academic cost analysis process together. Thirteen of 18 AIKCU member colleges and universities participated in the project, which was conducted with the support of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Foundation.
Significantly, the report identifies nearly $38 million in potential bottom line improvements among the participating institutions.
“The participating AIKCU members now have critically important data to utilize in making decisions about how they best serve their students, maximize scarce resources, and sustain financial stability,” Gary S. Cox, AIKCU president, said in a press release.
Among the key findings:
• More than 120 majors have the potential to grow to meet the needs of more students and generate more revenue.
• Many of the challenges the institutions face in ensuring student success can be addressed, resulting in more students graduating and producing more revenue to provide programs, services and financial aid.
• Very few majors need to be reduced or eliminated to cut costs.
• The institutions have the potential to add $37.9 million to their bottom lines.
AIKCU engaged the Higher Education Practice to guide each institution through the organization’s Optimizing Academic Balance process. Ken Hoyt, founder and principal of the Higher Education Practice, led the analysis.
The OAB process helps participating colleges and universities better understand the economics of their academic programs so they can make smart, strategic decisions. Each participating institution underwent a thorough analysis of demand, cost, and student outcome data to develop a confidential, institution-specific report.
The “Stronger Bottom Line” report aggregates data from those individual reports to present key findings for the independent college and university sector in Kentucky as a whole. More than 300 individual majors were analyzed from the 13 participating institutions.

Photo from AIKCU’s Facebook account