Right Advisory LLC, a financial consulting firm in Washington, D.C., released an article recently by its president, Robert M. Tarola, entitled “Traditional Higher Education – A Challenged Value Proposition.” Tarola led a team from Right Advisory, LLC, that helped a major research university reorganize its financial structure, and he used the experience to write the paper, which identifies the major challenges that traditional universities face in the today’s changing world.
Tarola notes that traditional universities are under tremendous pressure to change because of rapidly evolving technology and a changing job market. Online education is becoming more popular, and there is less demand for brick-and-mortar universities than in the past. He points out that traditional universities often have a high proportion of tenured faculty (who can be compared to owners) relative to lecturers and other support professionals (who can be compared to workers), and the result is a top-heavy business model that isn’t always profitable.
Furthermore, Tarola observes that traditional universities often have difficulty demonstrating accountability for what happens with money, and this raises public skepticism as well as making potential investors leery. Additionally, traditional universities depend far too much on government funding – and the slow decision-making that goes with it – as well as on student tuition that leaves graduates saddled with debt for decades.
While Tarola identifies areas of concern for these universities, he believes that there is definitely hope for them. Rather than a “doom and gloom” piece, his paper serves as good reading for anyone interested in how academic institutions can meet the challenges of the 21st century. The paper can be read online at: http://www.rightadvisory.net/files/91025921.pdf