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How Cloud in Higher Education Can Keep College Affordable


Linda Currey Post, Human Capital Management Cloud content strategist for Oracle Content Central, wrote about how colleges and universities see the possibility of Cloud in higher education helping keep college affordable for students.

How Cloud in Higher Education Helps

According to the most recent five-year forecast from the research firm Ovum, colleges and universities will increase their investments in Cloud applications and infrastructure by 22.3 percent by 2023. The cautious nature of college administrators and professors may have caused them to hold off on Cloud computing until it proved its value, but that is no longer the case. Joyce Kim, education technology analysts at Ovum and lead author of the recent forecast, feels that it’s no longer a question of “if” institutions will move to the Cloud, but a question of “when.”

Kim says that colleges and universities are anxious to reap the rewards of Cloud, particularly in three areas:

  1. Financial systems that offer real-time and accurate accounting of expenditures against grants and other income, particularly in the face of recent, widespread cuts in state and federal funding.
  2. Human resources and recruiting systems that help attract top professors, who are drawn to the missions of the colleges, even when they could earn more working in the private sector.
  3. Student information systems, of which the more modern systems have tools to help shepherd “nontraditional students” through the college experience, thus increasing retention and completion rates.

Oracle spoke with two higher education leaders about how the Cloud fits into their strategies.

DePaul University: ERP Cloud in Higher Education

Two big financial trends are driving higher education to take a closer look at Cloud-based financial applications.

  1. Public funding to colleges is shrinking.
  2. Tuition is hitting a ceiling as students are less willing to saddle themselves with a lifetime of debt.

Bob McCormick, Vice President for Information Services at DePaul University, explained that institutions have been raising their tuition dramatically compared with inflation and other measures. At the same time, student loans have reached an unsustainable level of debt for the students. McCormick believes that people in higher education are now asking questions about what can be done better or more efficiently.

As part of continuous efforts to control costs and identify ways to cut spending, DePaul University started implementing a Cloud-based suite of finance applications, Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, roughly six months ago.

As the nation’s largest Catholic university, DePaul continues to follow the teaching of the school’s namesake, St. Vincent de Paul, with a mission to give more people access to education – including first-generation college students with diverse cultural, ethnic, and financial backgrounds. McCormick thinks that the modern ERP Cloud system will help with that mission by improving financial efficiency.

“We tend to help our students a little more, both in the classroom and with navigating the higher education experience. Affordability is always central to our minds.”

—Bob McCormick, Vice President for Information Services at DePaul University

Baylor University: ERP and HCM Cloud in Higher Education

At Baylor University, where hiring top professors is key to success, university leaders decided that it was critical to have human resources and financial systems that talk to each other. That vision became the catalyst to move to the Cloud. The university installed Oracle ERP Cloud for financials and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud to handle the onboarding of new employees and then support employees with modern HR services.

Jon Allen, Chief Information Security Officer and interim CIO, reflected on the scope and the changes by saying it wasn’t easy. It was more than just buying a new system. Moving to Cloud was a business transformation, and the level of change management required to execute this properly was significant at Baylor. Since the university was doing it as a holistic project, it will serve to support the next generation of what is happening at the institution.

Other Opportunities for Cloud in Higher Education

Higher education’s embrace of Cloud services is also moving into student-facing systems that aim to give students the information that they need to stay in school and on track to graduate.

Oracle Student Cloud provides students with information about degree requirements, helps them choose their courses and plan their schedules, and reminds them about registration and payment deadlines.

It was developed with input from actual college students who advised Oracle to, for example, build one student information system to replace the several different systems that they must use now to register for parking passes or buy a meal card. Students lobbied for an interface that looks the same and is easy to use from device to device and that works well on all forms of social media.

According to Jason Wenrick, Vice President of Oracle’s Higher Education User Group, the students’ real-world input, representing 900 colleges and universities, is what today’s students want and need in order to be successful during their college years.

Joyce Kim of Ovum explained that higher education is a very collaborative community full of people who love to share their success stories with their peers. They are finding out that their universities can get real value from utilizing Cloud-based systems and infrastructure.

If you would like to submit your story to share with your peers, feel free to submit a form in order to have Quest reach out.

To learn more about Cloud in higher education, check out the additional Quest resources attached below.

Additional Resources

COLLABORATE 20 will take place April 19-23, 2020 at the Mandala Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV! Call for Presentations is now open. Don’t miss your chance to share your stories, insights, and advice with the Quest Oracle Community! Submit an abstract by October 11, 2019, to be considered to be a speaker at the conference.