Cost Containment: A Survey of Current Practices at America’s State Colleges and Universities

Source: American Association of State Colleges and Universities and SunGard Higher Education

Member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities are witnessing measurable success in identifying and implementing cost containment strategies in order to reduce operating costs. Nearly all survey respondents at AASCU institutions place high importance on cost containment, with most having implemented cost control strategies in multiple operational areas. As a result, a majority of the state colleges and universities participating in this study indicated sufficient satisfaction with their cost containment efforts.

Institutions rely more on support and business functions in their cost control efforts than on core academic functions. Energy management and consortium purchasing are the two most common areas of focus for cost containment. Although responding AASCU members’ cost containment efforts have chiefly focused on support functions and business operations, the large majority of respondents are willing to consider any area of operation for potential cost containment opportunities. Breadth is key: Institutions witness greater satisfaction with their cost containment efforts to the degree they achieve savings in a broad range of operations and services.

Despite progress made to date, the data suggest there remains significant opportunity for AASCU members to benefit further from implementing additional cost containment strategies. While three-fourths of responding institutions indicated satisfaction with their cost containment activities, a quarter indicated some dissatisfaction, pointing to a desire for increased progress and accomplishment in realizing cost savings. Data suggest that institutional investment in identifying and implementing cost containment initiatives could be increased, producing an even greater return on investment at more colleges and universities.

Full report (PDF; 842 KB)

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