University Business January 2018 - 48

OUTLOOK 2018
GETTING MONEY
IN, CONTROLLING
MONEY OUT
While relying less on student tuition and
fees is the ideal situation for many higher ed
institutions, it's not surprising that finance
administrators anticipate tuition revenue as
the biggest funding boost for 2018. Other
areas with a starring role in additional funding
projections are student fees and advancement
income, from both philanthropic and corporate donors.
The 66 respondents to the UB survey are
keeping a close eye on spending as well, particularly health benefit costs. More than 70
percent anticipate that spending in that area
will go up modestly or significantly this year.
However, 18 percent expect costs to hold to
2017 levels, and 11 percent believe health
costs will actually decrease in 2018.
Spending on staff salaries, facilities construction and maintenance, or technology will
be going up in each area for nearly two-thirds
of respondents-who represent a variety of
institution sizes, with about an even split between those at schools with 5,000 or less students and those at larger institutions.
But keeping up with technology is a challenge. Forty-six percent say it's one of the top
overall priorities for this year. As one finance
director noted, "We have a lot of data, but not
updated technology to pull it into useful information." Updating technology-based financial
tools is a top priority for about one in four
respondents.
The most popular of the "top overall priorities" for the year is improving financial
strategic planning processes, which nearly
two-thirds of respondents selected from a list
of 10 items. About half of the administrators
will be focused on addressing administrative
inefficiencies. Thirty percent hope to improve
cash flow.
Another concern is the ability to respond
to a changing business climate. Less than half
of respondents would grade their institutions'
agility as an A or B. The most common grade
is a C, which 42 percent of finance administrators assigned themselves.

48 | January 2018

TOP OVERALL PRIORITIES OF
FINANCE ADMINISTRATORS
Finance leaders' priorities for 2018
(respondents could select up to four)
Improving financial strategic
planning processes (long-term)

64%

Addressing administrative
inefficiencies

47%
46%

Keeping up with technology
Tapping into philanthropic and
corporate funding sources
Improving cash flow

27%
17%
14%

42%

30%
Updating technologybased financial tools

Controlling the cost
of health benefits
Reducing staff travel expenses

12%

Improving procurement practices

12%

Improving endowment
investment outcomes

How would you grade your institution's
agility to respond to a changing
business climate?

12% 11%

42%

A

35%

B
C
D

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business January 2018

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