Transformative strategies for universities
The coming year will see universities face two critical challenges: maintaining their revenue and growing student enrolments.
The university sector in Australia and worldwide is in a state of fundamental change according to University of Queensland’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Pringle, who shines the spotlight on the key disruptors:
- Changes in funding: “Historically, universities have operated as not-for-profit organisations. With the progressive decline in government funding, they are now having to diversify their revenue streams to pursue their goals – particularly if they are a research university, which brings greater cost,” Greg says. “A lot of funding now comes from other avenues such as international students, who currently comprise 30–40% of enrolments at many Australian universities. In 2018, UQ’s international student revenue will surpass government revenue for the first time.”
- Traditional operations: “While traditional operating models were fit for the largely government-funded environment, they now need improvement. Universities need to maximise the value of their assets while reducing inefficiency and cost. A key example is travel – one of our most significant costs yet extremely important for human engagement, relationship building, collaboration and research. UQ is aiming to maintain our existing volume of travel by being more disciplined in the way we procure, book and conduct our travel. Consolidating our activity with one travel manager, Campus Travel, and using fewer suppliers and a user-friendly online booking tool is already helping reduce the administrative and overall cost of our travel.
- Unprecedented competition for students: “The education sector is now globalised and universities are having to compete against each other and market themselves more than ever before, to lure local and international students. Those students with the right marks and financial means can go to any university. This competition is challenging the relationship between students and universities and their lecturers because it introduces the notion of the student as a customer. Universities need to give their ‘customers’ more of what they want, both on and off campus.”
- Internet and digital technologies: “With the internet providing so much credible information, universities have to offer students an experience that’s desirable, memorable and enriching. They need to create world-class facilities that attract students to campus for both study and recreation. They also need to embrace new technologies to improve their teaching and learning experiences, particularly with international students. UQ is aiming to provide the optimum blend of on- and off-campus learning opportunities. We’re transforming traditional lecture theatres into smaller and more interactive environments, while introducing technologies such as cognitive computing and augmented reality technology to improve the quality and convenience of our lecturers’ engagement with students.
How can universities rise to the challenges?
To address the above challenges, Campus Travel will be providing a series of follow-up articles detailing key strategies – both travel and non-travel related – that can help universities cut their costs; simplify processes for decision makers, academia and students; and identify exciting new opportunities to seed innovation and grow revenue through improved engagement with industry.
These strategies include:
- adopting transformative travel technologies, to make the entire travel process and experience easier and more rewarding. The key is to use intuitive and automated tools that save time and improve the traveller's experience, while ensuring the most organic and powerful form of personalised service – human contact – is always available
- partnering with industry suppliers and providers who can support and help manage the operational and cultural changes needed within universities to improve their competitiveness
- engaging with industry to create more meaningful, value-adding partnerships – such as UQ’s new partnership with Boeing, in which Boeing’s research team now sits within UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and IT to promote private sector/research collaboration. Such partnerships can open doors to new income streams and inventive opportunities for academics and students, making a real difference to what universities can offer.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll detail the transformative travel technologies that can significantly streamline every aspect of your university travel program and reduce cost. Stay tuned!