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Academic Planning

This document, produced by the Education Advisory Board, reports observational data from a review of publicly-available strategic plans posted on the websites of public colleges and universities.  This data is used in an attempt to answer the following two questions:

  • How do other universities structure their academic plans?
  • What are the similarities in content across academic plans?
Liberal Arts Colleges in American Higher Education

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This document, produced by the Education Advisory Board, reports interview data on the following questions:

  • How do institutions successfully use academic or strategic plans to guide new program development?
  • How did institutions develop their initial academic or strategic plan? What stakeholders were involved in this process?
  • How do institutions make the strategic plan an active part of decision making?
  • What tools are used to ensure that academic programs remain consistent with the institution's strategic plan?

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This article outlines the process UAB President Ray L. Watts used to create the universities strategic plan.

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Berkeley's plan details the process of creating their plan. It begins by identifying the varied challenges they face, then establishes a clear mission for the university, followed by principles and proposals, and ends with how the plan will be implemented. This document is an example of a "Strategic Academic Plan" as opposed to the more normative university-wide strategic plan.

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This document is an example of a "Strategic Academic Plan" as opposed to the more normative university wide strategic plan.

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This document is an example of an "Academic Strategic Plan" as opposed to a university-wide strategic plan.

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This document is an example of a "University Strategic Plan" with a strong academic component, as opposed to an Academic Strategic Plan.

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This document is an example of an "Academic Strategic Plan" with a broad planning focus.

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This blog article on Magna Publications’ website originally appeared in the newsletter, Academic Leader. Written by the assistant provost and an associate professor of Fort Hays State University, the article may be used as a guideline for an institution developing or redesigning mission statements. The article focuses on using a feedback process model, which would include all stakeholders of the institution.

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Educational Program Articles

This article, published in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, describes medical education as being "at a crossroads." The article outlines key challenges for medical education at both the undergraduate and graduate level. These challenges include:
Internal Factors

  • "The focus on disease to the relative exclusion of behavior"
  • "Inpatient v. outpatient education"
  • "Implications of a faculty whose research is highly focused at the molecular or sub-molecular level"

External Factors

  • Explosive growth in knowledge
  • Associated technologic "disruptive" innovations
  • Societal changes

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This report by HealthForce Minnesota was prepared for Hennepin Health Foundation and reviews best practices in healthcare education. Topics covered include:

  • On-line Education
  • Credit for Prior Learning
  • Simulation
  • Articulation
  • Competency Testing
  • Cross Training
  • Projected market demand
  • Cost
  • Best Practice

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum interviewed deans of schools of public health, directors of global health programs, and senior lecturers of global health courses. Their study reviewed these programs, and their findings include:

  • Programs in global health emphasize research skills as applied to the students' varied health backgrounds
  • Curricula include global case studies and field research particularly with non-profits, intergovernmental organizations, and government agencies
  • Strong partnerships with institutions abroad are necessary
  • Most admitted students possess prior experience in global health or field research experiences as an undergraduate.

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This paper, by the American Council of Learned Societies, is comprised of the proceedings of an ACLS conference in 2003. It is focused on the challenges and opportunities in the past, present, and future of liberal arts. It expresses the need to define the liberal arts' identity; universities must keep curricula in line with their proclaimed educational missions. Economic pressures impact how liberal arts colleges spread commitments of teaching, research and student achievement. However, while the notion of liberal arts being in a decline is concerning, it is incomplete by not addressing the signs of encouragement.

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This document contains the results of interviews with 800 geographically and demographically diverse adults who were questioned about the following:

  • Is college worth the cost?
  • Where government funding priorities should be placed?
  • Should state finding of public colleges be increased?
  • What is your opinion of public colleges and universities?
  • How should the "value" of AASCU schools best be "messaged?"
  • How should the "impact" of AASCU schools best be "messaged?"

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The Education Advisory Board's Continuing and Online Education Forum studied the desirability of graduate-level business degrees with a health care focus.  Findings of their study include:

  • Demand for graduates with business and health care skills increased 50%
  • Strong growth in demand for business/health graduates in
    • Medical device manufacturing
    • Electronic health records systems
    • Insurance agencies
  • Few students with health care background enter business programs with the intent to change careers
  • Programs were offered successfully in both face-to-face and on-line formats
  • Contacts with local health care employers is key to enrollment and job placement

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This report, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, examines the earnings potential and long term career paths of liberal arts and science majors.  The findings include:

  • The data indicates that graduates and society still find significant value in these degrees
  • Liberal arts and science degrees play a significant role in "sustaining the social and economic fabric of our society by providing socially vital professionals focused on public service
  • A degree in Liberal arts and science significantly increases an individual's chance of long term professional success

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This document is an example of how the Educational Advisory Board (EAB) can use "Burning Glass" employee demand data to generate a market analysis for academic programs.  This service is offered through the EAB Continuing and On-line Education (COE) forum.

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This document consists of two short articles on popular degrees.

  • Hot Degrees: Biomedical Engineering, Biometrics, Forensic Science, Computer Game Design, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Business Analytics, Petroleum Engineering, Public Health, Robotics, Sustainability
  • Popular Degrees Over Time: Computer Science, Psychology, Business, English/Literature, Education

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This document projects elementary, secondary and postsecondary degree enrollment. The most pertinent elements of the study are:

  • High Scholl Graduation Rates (Appendix A.2)
  • Enrollment in Postsecondary Degree-Granting Institutions (Appendix A.5)
  • Postsecondary degrees Conferred (Appendix A.6)

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This document summarizes the Princeton Review's Top Ten Majors chosen by students

  • Business Administration and Management/Commerce
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Biology/Biological Science
  • Education
  • English Language and Literature
  • Economics
  • Communications Studies/Speech Communication and Rhetoric
  • Political Science and Government
  • Computer and Information Science

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An extensive survey of campus leaders and professors conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in July 2013, found that faculty and administrators actually agree on some of the most contentious issues.

  • Direction
  • Innovation
  • Value
  • Focus
  • Validity of hybrid learning delivery

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The Education Advisory Board's Continuing and Online Education Forum studied the viability of online master's degrees in Management. Findings include the following:

  • Student demand for Master's in Management programs is high
  • Employer demand for graduates with related degree skills grow 61.8% nationally form 2010-2013
  • MBA and Master's in Management degrees appear in different student populations; all schools in the study offered both degrees
  • Master's in Management tended to devote more classes to business-related skills including economics, entrepreneurship, and business development, but curriculum did overlap with MBA

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The Education Advisory Board's University Business Executive Roundtable produced this report of their study of the structure, fees, resources, governance and student services that go into producing a self-supporting degree program at a public institution.

  • Self-supporting programs are typically graduate-level programs for Non-Traditional learners
  • Academic standards do not depart from those of traditional programs
  • Tuition is determined by program expenses and market demand
  • Indirect state support may leak into programs
  • Faculty tend to support both self-supporting programs an traditional state-supported programs simultaneously
  • Graduate Assistant, positions are managed as a separate pool

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum conducted a study into the common characteristics of communication-related master's degrees. Their findings included:

  • Curricula tend to focus on social media management, public relations, and strategic communication
  • Degrees require two years to couplet and tend to be delivered  face-to-face
  • BA/MA programs allowed undergraduates to progress to upper level MA classes faster
  • Industry contacts are key to identifying employer demand
  • Programs report entry level job-placement rates of 88%

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The Education Advisory Board's University Leadership Council reviewed multi-institutional collaborative programs that could not be offered by a traditional liberal arts college alone.  Their reported findings include:

  • The most common collaborative program is a joint engineering program
  • Institutional compatibility is an important factor in a successful program
  • Two and two or three and two programs were common
  • Enrollment figures and student performance are key factors in success

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This document examines the viability of such programs. Finding include the following:

  • Faculty Size is a key determinate of the number of students who can be accepted. Cohort sizes range from five to twelve
  • Student Cohorts are a mix of mid-career practitioners and academically-oriented, as well as a mix of full and part-time
  • Financial aid typically includes full funding for three years
  • Unmet demand exists in non-profit management and budgeting and public finance
  • Demand for PhDs in local government appears week
  • Program growth strategies are discussed

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The Education Advisory Board's University Leadership Council interviewed sustainability program directors to determine the growth in interdisciplinary programs in areas related to sustainability.  Their observations include:

  • Significant growth in related degree programs since 2005
  • Growth in employment opportunities related to such degrees on a national scale
  • All related programs were interdisciplinary and involved programs in both hard science and social science disciplines
  • All related programs were reported to continue to build enrollment since inception
  • Proactive marketing was an important factor in meeting enrollment goals

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum interviewed academic planning administrators at research-intensive public institutions to determine viability of new programs and support services. The four principle findings of their report are:

  • Centralized support services for market research are limited
  • New program enrollment projections are the most difficult data for academic units to collect and predict accurately
  • Institutions do not dedicate sizeable resources or time to financial viability analysis for new programs
  • Distance education divisions conduct more advanced market research during new program development than traditional academic units

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Enrollment & Access Articles

The Education Advisory Board's Student Affairs Leadership Council interviewed student affairs administrators and other individuals responsible for providing services and support to non-resident students at public universities. Their report examines best practices for engaging non-resident (out of state) students in public universities.  Findings include the following:

  • Most institutional efforts to serve non-resident students end with new-student orientation and welcome week
  • Connecting non-resident students with other students, faculty, and staff members can increase student success
  • Offering student housing over institutional break periods is helpful
  • International students are a unique category of non-resident students
  • Measuring non-resident student satisfaction is uncommon

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The Education Advisory Board's University Leadership Council studied approaches to maximize instructional productivity. Their report explores a data-supported approach to academic growth. Findings include the following:

  • Growth is strategic cost reduction that may be necessary for survival
  • Ad hoc growth can actually squander scarce economic resources
  • Data on capacity and utilizations should be used to guide the allocation of resources. Inefficiency may be too costly when resources are shrinking
  • Maximizing Space Utilization, a 10-40% increase in capacity can be achieved at most institutions
  • Optimizing Section Assignments: strong match between section numbers and student demand patterns
  • Reducing Nonessential Credits so that students follow the most efficient path
  • The Current Paradigm Creates Unnecessary Restraints: New classrooms, Hybrid delivery, Course redesign, and Competency credit can allow for growth at little cost

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This is an Inside Higher Ed article that summarizes projections for college enrollment though 2022.

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The Education Advisory Board's University Leadership Council performed research to address tactics to increase international enrollment. They posit the methods that institutions with success in international enrollment apply by:

  • Broadening recruitment networks
  • Competing on convenience (simplifying processes or removing barriers for prospective international students)
  • Differentiating the offer
  • Setting the right price

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum identified the common traits of institutions that market specific programs to bust enrollment:

  • Departmental open houses are most common form
  • Digital media advertising are preferred because of higher return on investment
  • Most campaigns last from two to eighteen months
  • The cost of marketing is either paid for by the department or a campus wide committee prioritizes the expenditure of budgeted funds

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum studied the ways institutions actively involve faculty in the student recruitment process. Findings include:

  • Faculty tend to interact most with students post-admission, but do interact at every stage of the admissions funnel
  • Providing faculty with admissions templates and guidelines for phone calls and letters to prospective students can increase faculty participation
  • As a general rule, faculty participation is voluntary and uncompensated
  • The recruitment initiatives of the admissions office are not funded by the academic units

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The Education Advisory Board's Academic Affairs Forum interviewed academic affairs administrators at private research universities to determine how they set revenue goals and the relationship those goals have on graduate student enrollment. Their report covers the following points:

  • Institutions rarely fully dedicate one person to graduate student enrollment management
  • Iterative program reviews examine enrollment targets compared to actual enrollments; one-time reviews evaluate all graduate programs for substantial adjustments (e.g., funding structures, number of students accepted)
  • Several profiled institutions intentionally balance master's and doctoral students within programs; few profiled institutions intentionally balance revenue-generating and non-revenue generating students across programs
  • Contacts employ incentives (e.g., tuition discounts) and disincentives (e.g., admissions suspension) to manage low-enrollment programs

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This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education addresses how fostering access and diversity to academic institutions are not only difficult to define, but also to quantify. The article reports the access and diversity committee of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators study how to create an index to rate institutions’ commitments to access and diversity through their financial-aid policies.

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Financial Aid Articles

This document from Pensacola State College reviews the major changes in federal financial aid regulations for this year.  The covered topics include:

  • Use of IRS Data Retrieval
  • Student Verification
  • Pell Grant changes
  • Rules on retaking classes
  • Changes to Direct Loans

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This document is a U.S. News article that reviews the shifting landscape of student financial Aid.

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This report is part of CollegeBoard's "Trends in Higher Education Series," and it explores the impact of the "Great Recession" on colleges, universities and their students in terms of financial aid need and availability. The covered topics include:

  • Types of Student Aid
  • Sources of Grant Aid
  • Pell Grants
  • Distribution of student Aid
  • Student Borrowing, and
  • Student Debt

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Higher Education Workforce Articles

This document outlines the market value of a broad variety of 171 different academic degrees as well as the economic impact of undergraduate/graduate degree parings.

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This document looks at salary and employment trends for a wide variety of degrees.  Findings include:

  • List of top industries by major
  • Major by Occupational Position and Industry
  • Top Paying Positions

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The NACE Salary Survey identifies the starting salaries for new college graduates, which was reported by employers. This issue from April of 2014 features:

  • Top Industries / Individual Majors
  • Top-Hiring Industries
  • Major by Occupational Position / Industry
  • Top-Paying Positions
  • All Data Reported by Employers

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Student Success Articles

The Education Advisory Board's Community College Leadership Forum reported the findings of their completion-strategies study. The report found the greatest return on investment included:

  • Student-Centric Financial Aid Services
  • Modeling Successful Academic Behavior
  • Cycle-Compress Remedial Education
  • Accelerated and "Stop-and-Start" Completion Paths

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This New York Times article addresses how University of Texas – Austin implemented a program to identify incoming freshman students that are at a high risk of not graduating, then to assist those students with what they need to succeed. Informatics and psychology of education were used together to develop the university-wide program in efforts to raise the graduation rate from 52 percent to 70 percent by 2017.

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The Education Advisory Board's University Leadership Council researched the current climate, issues, and value of retention and graduation rates. Their report explores the activities that institutions have found helpful in building grater student success.  Findings include the following:

  • Improving student retention is worth the investment, yielding economic benefits
  • The problem to be underutilization of support services
  • At-risk students cannot be relied on to be self-aware or self-motivated
  • Instructors, teaching first year courses, often lack the time, tools, and motivation
  • Half of all attrition occurs in the first year, but this means that half occurs later
  • The longer students remain in school the less likely they are to finish
  • The responsibility for improving retention must be owned by someone

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This document consists of two short articles from U.S. News and TakePart on popular degrees and growing job markets.

  • Hot Degrees: Biomedical Engineering, Biometrics, Forensic Science, Computer Game Design, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Business Analytics, Petroleum Engineering, Public Health, Robotics, Sustainability
  • Popular Degrees Over Time: Computer Science, Psychology, Business, English/Literature, Education

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The Chronicle of Higher Education summarized a report, "The Real Cost of College: Time & Credits to Degree at California Community Colleges and California State University." The report addresses how costs to students and institutions, in terms of time and money, may be reduced.

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The Education Advisory Board’s University Leadership Council studied the types of support for students on academic probation. They conducted interviews of academic affairs administrators, conducted a literature review, studied institutional web sites, and collected published statistics. Their findings address:

  • The provisions and structures of advising for students on academic probation
  • The course offerings for the students on academic probation
  • The evaluations of effectiveness of support services for students on academic probation

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