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Private College Trustees Favor Business Model Change

This month, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) released the results of its survey completed by 1,401 AGB members who serve as trustees across all sectors of higher education. Of particular interest are these responses from the 990 trustees of independent, nonprofit colleges and universities:

  • 69% cited “the price of higher education for students and their families” as a top concern about the future of higher education in the U.S.
  • 71% believe the price of obtaining a college degree is too expensive compared to the relative value of having a college degree.
  • 55% believe most colleges are able to change their business model, but only 39% believe most colleges are willing to change it.
  • 96% believe their own institution needs to change its business model (18% drastically, 53% moderately, and 25% a little).

For the purposes of the study, “business model” referred to the mission, market, and revenue structure so that it included considerations about who the institution’s students are, how educational services are provided to them, and how the institution and its programs are funded. A clear pattern emerged that private college trustees are concerned about their institution’s ability to sustain its value proposition under its current business model.

This trustee view accords with the presidential view revealed by the Independent College Presidents Survey that The Lawlor Group and RHB fielded last year. As one respondent put it, “Everybody professes to recognize that our model is unsustainable, but no one is making significant changes to it.” The presidents responding to our survey cited revenue, cost, and financial sustainability issues as the internal market forces that are presenting the greatest challenge to their particular institution.


AGB 2017 Trustee Index

The survey explores trustee perspectives on the state of higher education. (Association of Governing Boards)

Informing Edupreneurship 

Our own Carole Arwidson shows how research efforts can enable proactive decision making. (Smarketplace)

Save the Date

Mark your calendar for the return of Summer Seminar on June 14-15, 2018. Details coming soon!


Lawlor Recommends

As all members of the higher education community are aware, marketplace conditions continue to be a challenge—and frankly, a catalyst for looking for new opportunities and innovative solutions. Uncertainty permeates the atmosphere as so many individuals and sectors discern and discuss the ramifications of what’s next for higher education, for students and families, for local communities, and of course, for their own institutions.

No matter what, this is a week for reflecting and giving thanks. Let’s celebrate each of you playing such a positive role in making a difference in so many lives. THANK YOU and happy Thanksgiving.