The rising cost of a college education isn’t just a concern for parents and students, it’s an issue that preoccupies college administrators too. To control rising tuition, college administrators focus on managing operating costs to mitigate significant tuition increases while still being able to offer students the educational and social experiences they expect from college in the twenty-first century.
According to Lyen Crews, President of the Coalition for College Cost Savings, college presidents and administrators face no easy solutions. “Colleges are capital- and labor-intensive environments,” he shared in a recent interview. “In order to save money while still delivering a quality educational experience to students, retaining academic staff, offering the amenities expected by today’s students, and meeting government regulations, colleges need to find and reduce spending in those few cost areas where price is negotiable.”
As a former college financial officer and now President of an organization that helps over 900 not-for-profit colleges and universities save money and maximize operational efficiencies, Crews has a unique perspective and has identified some best practices for administrators who are just beginning this journey. One of the first things that colleges should do is to collaborate on purchasing. “Unless you’re a large institution, you have no leverage to negotiate discounts and competitive prices when it comes to buying everything from basic supplies to major technology purchases,” Crews noted.
By using an e-procurement platform or Marketplace, colleges can access a wide range of products and solutions at the best available price. Moreover, as Crews pointed out, a well-designed purchasing platform brings additional advantages like visibility and transparency that enhance governance for the finance office and other administrators. Crews shared that “there’s no more concern that shadow, or unauthorized, purchases are being made, or that unsophisticated buyers who are not procurement professionals are adding to the cost burden of running the institution because a Marketplace platform provides visibility through easy to run reporting.”
As colleges seek to thrive in a competitive and ever-changing educational environment the ability to manage costs will continue to be a top priority for administrators. Putting measures in place like collaborative purchases via a Marketplace platform that can help rein in costs quickly and easily will become a strategic advantage.