Higher ed leaders agree that academic reporting is critical for achieving institutional goals; however, the degree to which institutions are able to successfully draw and respond to quantitative insights varies. According to NASPA, AIR, and Educause, “few institutions are systematically collecting, integrating, and using their data.”
Optimized academic reporting accurately reflects your institution’s operations, and enables administrators to make data-driven decisions. Explore recommendations below to ensure that your institution invests in academic reporting that promotes operational efficiency and student success.
University administrators often spend the majority of their time on manual, duplicate data entry across systems. Data hosted across multiple systems means administrators have limited access to the data needed to support decision making. For example, the average institution might have 4-6 different tools to support class scheduling, preventing administrators for accessing a single source of truth that provides a holistic look at institutional operations.
Integrated academic reporting across processes draws out relevant and up-to-date insights. The curriculum lifecycle is a great example of this. In order to project student demand, get accurate course and section recommendations, and estimate financial margins of departments and programs, reporting must take into account:
This data spans systems and can rapidly change during enrollment windows. Without integrated reporting, institutions risk drawing insights based on incomplete and/ or outdated data.
Research shows that while most institutions invest in academic reporting related projects, fewer than half are able to effectively implement the results. This is largely the result of data analysis being the sole responsibility of IT and Institutional Research offices. While these professionals are adept at building models, capturing data, and interpreting the results, the rest of campus doesn’t have the same skills. Consequently, administrators without these advanced data analysis skills cannot easily run the analyses they need and rely on other offices to build and interpret reports for them. Due to this, reports are often built ad hoc in response to specific requests, and rarely relate or build off of one another.
Institutions should invest in customizable, no-code reporting that expands insight into academic operations for all administrators. Reports should make information such as enrollment trends, program completion velocity, and cost analysis easy to understand with little to no filtering or analysis required by the end user. Easy to understand dashboards present administrators with data points that are meaningful to their workflows and allow for data-driven decisions without IT involvement.
Data and analytics are only valuable if they are able to inform and drive action on your campus. Academic reporting must be paired or integrated with tools that make it easy to act on recommendations, allowing administrators to focus on strategic decision making for their unit.
For example, analyses that show a department is not offering enough seats in a certain course aren’t enough by themselves to drive action. Administrators need to quickly act on the recommendation to add seats or sections so that they can keep students on track to completion and recoup tuition dollars. The more effectively a reporting tool enables administratores to act on recommendations, the greater the impact on operational efficiency and student outcomes.