US: Higher education containment survey published

US universities and colleges "are witnessing measurable success in identifying and implementing cost containment strategies in order to reduce operating costs," reports a study by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or AASCU, and SunGard Higher Education. Institutions rank cost containment among their top priorities, according to the survey of 114 universities and colleges. It identifies eight avenues of cost containment and reports that institutions mostly rely on three distinct areas - facilities and infrastructure (87%), business services and processes (83%) and academic programming (82%).

Cost containment: A survey of current practices at America's state colleges and universities reveals that the single most relied upon individual cost containment source is energy management at 83%, followed by consortium purchasing at 61%. Other sources include facilities management, use of adjunct faculty, bookstore operations, and food service-residence hall operations.

The report provides insight into replicable "best practices" that could produce effective cost savings. The study found that although cost containment activities largely centre on business and support functions, most respondents were willing to consider other areas where cost savings could be achieved - and some reported that there was insufficient amount of funding, staff and time allocated to actual cost containment activities. The report - which is freely available - offers six recommendations for increased institutional savings.
Full report on the AASCU site