College Officials Best Practices Survey

More than 1,500 top college officials predict the future of higher education.

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Facing budget cuts, changing technologies, and increased competition from for-profit schools, administrators at the Best Colleges in the United States are at a crossroads. U.S. News and Fidelity Investments asked more than 1,500 top college officials to discuss the changing face of higher education, the challenges they’ll face in the coming years, and the key moves their institutions will have to make to remain competitive.

What new curriculum offering(s) will be essential for college graduates to succeed in the global workforce over the next 5 -10 years?
  Essential       Not essential
a. Technology 61.5% 25.0% 11.4% 1.1% 1.0%
b. Biotechnology 19.3% 33.7% 32.2% 11.4% 3.4%
a. Science 38.2% 39.3% 19.6% 2.5% 0.3%
c. Internet  32.7% 30.0% 26.4% 7.0% 3.8%
d. E-business 17.7% 33.0% 33.8% 10.9% 4.5%
e. Healthcare 31.0% 35.7% 24.1% 6.5% 2.7%
f. Engineering 19.9% 36.0% 31.3% 8.8% 3.9%
g. Computer Science 18.1% 35.1% 34.9% 9.3% 2.5%
h. Computer Information Technology 24.3% 42.2% 25.3% 6.8% 1.4%
i. Foreign Language 24.4% 38.1% 28.2% 7.6% 1.6%
What do you see as the greatest challenges confronting your institution in achieving your academic mission?
  Great Challenge       Not a Challenge
a. State of the economy 56.3% 31.8% 10.0% 1.4% 0.5%
b. Financial situation in your state 47.3% 28.3% 16.2% 6.2% 2.1%
c. Changing demographics of U.S. high school students 20.2% 38.3% 30.6% 8.6% 2.3%
d. Internet 4.0% 15.7% 38.6% 24.4% 17.3%
e. Competition from for-profits 7.0% 19.3% 31.4% 26.0% 16.2%
f. Increasing revenue from tuition 31.7% 41.0% 20.0% 5.4% 1.9%
g. Deferred maintenance 15.4% 28.5% 31.2% 16.0% 8.9%
h. Financial status of your institution 15.8% 26.0% 33.2% 17.5% 7.4%
i. Competition from colleges outside the U.S. 1.5% 5.1% 20.1% 39.6% 33.7%
j. Poor K-12 preparation of students for college 24.3% 31.6% 28.8% 12.0% 3.3%
What academic specialties will be most important to your institution in the next 5 -10 years?
  Very Important       Not Important
a. Mathematics 35.9% 38.1% 20.6% 4.2% 1.1%
b. Science 59.9% 32.1% 6.6% 0.7% 0.7%
c. Humanities 26.2% 32.6% 31.9% 8.0% 1.2%
d. Arts 21.7% 28.8% 35.9% 11.1% 2.5%
e. Engineering 24.6% 15.1% 17.7% 14.3% 28.3%
f. Law 7.8% 12.4% 22.6% 17.1% 40.1%
g. Health 43.2% 28.6% 15.0% 5.7% 7.4%
h. Medicine 22.0% 20.9% 17.7% 10.7% 28.8%
i. Education 41.6% 31.8% 19.5% 4.3% 2.7%
j. Business 48.2% 35.6% 12.0% 2.2% 2.0%
How important is improving the outcomes and educational quality of the K-12 education system to U.S. higher education remaining globally competitive?
Very Important       Not Important
79.7% 16.6% 3.5% 0.2% -
How much will the K-12 education system/process need to change in the next 5 years in order to keep pace and stay aligned with higher education?
Very Much Change Needed       No Change Needed
45.5% 43.7% 10.2% 0.7% -
How significant of a role will partnership(s) with 2-year schools (i.e., comprehensive community colleges, technical colleges) play in achieving your institution’s academic and economic goals over the next 5 years?
Very Significant Role       No Role
27.6% 32.4% 23.2% 12.2% 4.5%
How likely is it that tenure will be eliminated at your institution in the next 10 years?
Extremely Likely       Extremely Unlikely
6.5% 4.2% 13.1% 20.6% 55.6%
How important will faculty turnover be to achieving your institution's objectives over the next 5 -10 years?
Very Important       Not Important
11.3% 29.5% 39.1% 15.3% 4.8%
Rate the quality of adjunct professors in comparison with full-time, tenured professors at your institution and/or peers.
Excellent       Poor
7.8% 37.2% 46.2% 8.2% 0.6%
What average annual % increase are you forecasting in your operating budget over the next 5 years?
1%-2% 24.9%
3%-4% 46.4%
5%-8% 23.0%
9%-11% 4.2%
12% 1.5%
What average annual % will your investment in your facilities/physical plant increase over the next 5 years?
1%-2% 18.1%
3%-4% 34.7%
5%-8% 30.6%
9.7% 4.2%
12%+ 7.0%
Rate the likelihood that tuition increases will slow or reach a plateau in the next five years.
Extremely Likely       Extremely Unlikely
11.4% 25.4% 30.0% 21.3% 11.9%
How have state budget cuts (if public) affected your institution’s budget and planning?
Profoundly Affected       Not Affected
29.9% 20.2% 17.5% 13.4% 19.0%
Measure the effectiveness of federal takeover of student loans vs. before federal takeover of student loans
Extremely Effective       Not Effective
8.8% 20.8% 50.7% 12.9% 6.9%
To what extent has the annual spending budget created by the endowment fund become a more or less important component of your overall annual budget?
Significantly More Important       Significantly Less Important
8.9% 21.9% 45.1% 16.7% 7.3%
What is the likelihood you will update your benefits in the next 2-3 years by…
  Extremely Likely       Not At All Likely
a. Removing health insurance coverage for your employees 1.4% 3.0% 8.3% 16.8% 70.5%
b. Moving to an H.S.A.-only health option 2.8% 5.3% 20.1% 28.0% 43.8%
c. Increasing incentives for vendors/employees to promote wellness 18.5% 28.5% 33.5% 13.3% 6.2%
d. Freezing or terminating pension plan 2.2% 5.4% 17.9% 24.7% 49.8%
e. Automatically enrolling employees into a retirement plan 12.2% 11.6% 27.5% 22.4% 26.3%
f. Establishing or raising your employer contribution to a retirement plan 6.5% 10.3% 23.5% 25.0% 34.6%
What will your average annual increase in benefits funding be over the next 5 years?
1%-2% 24.7%
3%-4% 39.3%
5%-8% 27.2%
9.7% 6.4%
12%+ 2.4%
Over the next 5 years, what is the likelihood of retirement benefits being a bigger or smaller percentage of the overall employee compensation package?
Very Likely A Bigger Percentage       Very Likely A Smaller Percentage
3.4% 10.5% 50.6% 22.9% 12.6%
In 5 years, what percentage of students will receive a bachelor’s degree from your institution via an online program (vs. traditional on-campus model)?
NA – will not be offered 29.0%
Less than 5% 34.2%
5%-10% 20.2%
11%-20% 10.8%
21%-50% 4.1%
51%+ 1.7%
Rate the quality of an online education from for-profit institutions compared to that of an on-campus classroom based education from a non-profit.
Excellent       Poor
1.4% 3.9% 19.4% 33.7% 41.7%
Rate the importance of implementing new, cutting-edge technologies in the classroom setting.
Extremely Important       Not Important
37.0% 39.0% 18.8% 4.6% 0.6%