Insights into institutional initiatives and the role of technology
By Teresa de Onis
With the ongoing pandemic, higher education is still working to adapt to a new normal. The events of 2020 and 2021 cast a bright light on the difficulties of making quality higher education accessible to the underserved as well as preparing students for modern, well-paying jobs that lead to satisfying careers and lives. This intense disruption to academics-as-usual, and the profound need for higher education to be a beacon of hope and opportunity, have revealed fascinating differences in strategic planning among universities.
In September 2021, Apogee analyzed 611 publicly available strategic plans created by a variety of higher education institutions to understand the state of strategic planning pre-2020 and after. Our goal is to empower our customers to make data-driven planning decisions, help them tie their initiatives to technology strategies, and support higher ed institutions as they emerge from this crisis stronger than before. The 611 strategic plans were coded based on elements in different planning areas without double-counting action items in the same area. Many plans that expired in 2020 were not explicitly renewed in publicly available databases. This could be due to the pandemic preventing institutions from moving forward with planning. Strategic plans were downloaded or copied where possible and are available upon request. The interactive report, containing data visualizations by school size and locale (city, suburb, town, and rural), was updated in October 2021.
Though larger institutions have the innate advantages of more personnel and funding, we believe all institutions – especially smaller ones – need to double-down on strategic planning to not only push through these uncertain times, but to come out stronger on the other side. According to our research, smaller institutions in this study are two times more apt to not have a strategic plan. It is unclear whether this is due to a lack of resources or hesitation on how to plan for a post-pandemic world. Goal setting and strategic planning must include aggressive technology planning. This is necessary to support the nation’s demand for educational ROI that will drive equality and prosperity now and in the future.