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    November 17, 2022 | Institutional Research, Institutional Planning, Featured

    3 ways to uplevel your institutional effectiveness strategy

    Much like the Fellowship’s journey to Mordor, higher ed’s journey to IE has had its difficulties. And thanks to a crash course with our good pal Sean Bean, we now know the 3 challenges impacting institutional effectiveness in higher ed:

    1. Decentralized or insular decision-making
    2. Failure to make connections between investments and outcomes 
    3. Lack of metrics, or an inability to define success

    If your institution is struggling with these same challenges, you may be asking yourself: what now? How do I navigate this important but difficult road? And with so many hurdles blocking the way, is it even worth it to continue going down this path?

    The Changed Landscape for Institutional Effectiveness

    The fact of the matter is, the higher ed landscape has changed. And has been changing for some time.

    Today's colleges and universities face dramatic shifts in the higher ed market. The cost of a college education has tripled in the last 20 years. Parents and students are questioning the value of a degree and asking to see evidence that their investment will lead to employment. Meanwhile, institutions are dealing with cost containment on their campuses as they navigate higher operating costs and staffing constraints. And all of this is happening while shifting to virtual or hybrid models in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many colleges have had to close their doors or seek out acquisition to survive.

    To add even more pressure, accreditation agencies are adjusting their requirements to respond to this market shift. With stricter accreditation conditions, colleges and universities can’t just show their commitment to academic achievement. They need to prove their financial sustainability and that they’re preparing their students for life after graduation—factoring in loan repayment rates, future employment, licensure passage, and other career-focused markers when they evaluate student success.

    It’s clear that, ready or not, a new era is upon us…

    Sean Bean's character Ned Stark from Game of Thrones looking defensive and holding a sword with text saying "Brace yourselves... institutional effectiveness 2.0 is coming"

    3 ways to uplevel your institutional effectiveness strategy

    There are already higher ed leaders taking a more holistic view of accreditation and sustainability, centralizing their IE offices, and connecting their academic and administrative data. But how do they do it?

    Here are 3 ways YOU can level up your institutional effectiveness strategy:

    1. An actionable strategic plan — Most colleges and universities already have a strategic planning process in place to guide evaluation, assessment, improvement and innovation initiatives. But unless that plan is actionable, achievable, and driven by reliable data, it won’t achieve the necessary results. The most effective strategic plans enable an institution to measure how well it is fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals, and offer insight into the path ahead.
    2. Data Infrastructure — How do you know if you’re meeting the goals established in your strategic plans? A critical part of IE 2.0 is a comprehensive data infrastructure—which means colleges and universities need a central system to capture, analyze, measure, and report on metrics across the entire institution. Questions like “Are we recruiting students who will be most successful at our institution?” or “What percentage of faculty are meeting or exceeding their teaching requirements?” can only be answered by looking at data gathered across various departments and units.
    3. Unified Visibility — Improving your data infrastructure alone will not provide the holistic view needed to drive true institutional effectiveness. IE 2.0 also requires an understanding of institutional relationships within and across functional units. The final puzzle piece is to strive for unified visibility across academic and administrative functions to inform cross-functional decision-making and broad use cases. Once unified visibility is achieved, institutions can start to ask—and answer—even bigger questions like “is our spending aligned with our mission” or “what is the probability of hitting our desired enrollment target?” 

    Once these three components are in place, along with plans to review them on an ongoing basis, you can accelerate your path to long-term sustainability and consistently deliver on your mission.

    What comes next?

    “Driven by the need to stay relevant and stand the test of time, colleges and universities are slowly moving toward a more integrated approach to IE, with a focus on financial sustainability, skills development, and post-graduation student success—and IE 2.0 is the methodology that will get them there.”

     — Darren Catalano, CEO, HelioCampus

    As you put these 3 core components into practice, your institution may find itself “data rich and information poor” or lacking the in-house talent needed to make these changes. To overcome these barriers, you may choose to work with an institutional effectiveness partner to put the technology, people, and processes in place to accelerate your path to IE 2.0. 

    Either way, adopting IE 2.0’s holistic, centralized, and data-driven approach will provide you with the resiliency, foresight and flexibility you need to meet the future— which is coming much faster than you may think.

    Graphic of two women who are working together to put together a huge, life-sized puzzle.

    Download the full Institutional Effectiveness 2.0 guide book to see what a new path forward for higher education might look like at your college or university.


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