Published on 2014/01/23

Three Reasons to Seek Institutional Collaborations

Three Reasons to Seek Institutional Collaborations
Partnering with an institution can be just as valuable for a higher education institution’s growth as purchasing a service from a vendor.
When we look for solutions at our academic institutions, we often overlook partnering with other institutions as we search for vendors. Although many consortia are established solely for the purpose of facilitating institutional partnerships and collaboration, their value is far too often overlooked. Institutions should look to consortia models and other opportunities for institutional partnerships for several reasons:

1. Profit Motive

While the institution supplying the service will want to cover its costs, profits do not have to be the driving factor in establishing a price. Unlike for-profit vendors, institutions have no shareholders demanding competitive pricing, thus freeing them up to establish a pricing schedule that is mutually beneficial without necessarily having to meet a profit motive.

2. Expertise

Colleges and universities house a wealth of experience and knowledge. Whether the expertise required is academic or service based, institutions have the in-house knowledge readily available to address an issue. Tapping into this expertise is likely easier than you think.

3. Shared Risk

In many smaller institutions, it may not be feasible to offer a degree program without partnering with another institution. With combined enrollments, a degree program can flourish, not just survive. Additionally, partnering with an institution known for its expertise in a particular area minimizes the learning curve and the mistakes from going it alone.

At eduKan, we help institutions establish their programs online. Currently, we are working with two private, non-profit liberal arts colleges to bring their programs online. The collaboration benefits the partner schools by assisting their faculty in the conversion of their courses, providing high-end learning management systems (which they simply could not afford on their own) and a 24/7/365 call center for their students. And, best of all, they don’t need to be a member of the eduKan consortium to participate. They have access to our instructional designer and information technology staff, thus enabling a smooth transition; all at a fraction of the cost of building the infrastructure by themselves.

But what is in it for eduKan and its member schools? Because the pricing from our learning management system provider is based on a sliding scale, the more we use it, the less expensive it becomes. Since we started helping other institutions bring their programs online we have lowered our cost per enrollment by 71 percent for the learning management system.

What was once our second-largest cost, behind faculty, now actually costs us less with more than 5,000 enrollments than it did with just 2,500.

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Readers Comments

C Demichelis 2014/01/23 at 3:19 pm

Interesting piece. I could see institutions partnering with each other to deliver academic services. While partnering with vendors may be an effective solution for some services and products, the reality is that many vendors don’t fully understand the context in which institutions operate. Thus, it’s difficult to imagine partnering with a vendor to deliver academic services or anything close to the core mission of the institution. Not so with another institution, who could be an ideal partner for education delivery.

Glenda Cullen 2014/01/26 at 8:45 am

Sarver makes a good argument for greater inter-institutional collaboration. I believe a trend we’ll start to see is institutions partnering with each other to, in turn, work with a vendor. There are already examples of smaller institutions, usually in rural areas, sharing a vendor for tech, HR or other solutions. Benefits for the institutions are greater clout with the vendor and cost savings than if each institution signed a contract with the same vendor on their own.

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