Feature Article - June 2012
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Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

Revenues & Budgets

College and university respondents reported average operating expenditures that were lower than the average general respondent in fiscal 2011, though the difference lessens over the next two years. In fiscal 2011, college respondents had an average operating budget of $1,490,000, 4 percent less than the general survey population's average operating budget. However, college respondents expect their budgets to increase by 9.3 percent between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2013, compared with just 5.1 percent for all facility types. Thus, in fiscal 2013, college respondents' average projected budget of $1,628,000 is just 0.2 percent lower than the projected average for all facility types.

Respondents from colleges and universities were more likely to report steady revenues over time, compared with respondents overall. While 42.2 percent of all respondents said their revenues had held steady from 2010 to 2011, 55.7 percent of colleges and universities saw steady revenues in that time frame. They were less likely than general survey respondents to report either increases or decreases in revenue over time, with around a third of colleges reporting an increase in 2011 (32.8 percent vs. 37 percent of all respondents), and a little more than a third expecting increases in 2012 (34.6 percent vs. 41.5 percent) and in 2013 (36.2 percent vs. 42.1 percent). At the same time, they were less likely to see decreasing revenue, with just 11.5 percent of colleges reporting decreases in 2011 (vs. 20.8 percent of all respondents), 14.7 percent projecting decreases in 2012 (vs. 15.7 percent of all respondents) and 8.5 percent projecting decreases in 2013 (vs. 10.8 percent of all respondents). (See Figure 44.)

At the same time that their revenues are predominantly holding steady and operating budgets are increasing slightly, more than half of college and university respondents are seeing increases in the number of people using their facilities. Some 52.8 percent said there was an increase in users from 2010 to 2011, while 56.3 percent projected further increases in 2012, and 55.1 percent projected an increase in 2013. (See Figure 45.) This makes colleges and universities slightly more likely than other survey respondents both to have seen increases in 2011 and to expect increases in 2012. At the same time, college respondents were less likely than others to see decreasing usage in all the years covered by the survey.

College respondents were least likely to report that they had taken any action in the past year to reduce their operating expenditures. However, a majority (81.5 percent) still said they had taken some action in order to lower operating costs, slightly fewer than had taken such actions in 2011 (84.7 percent).

Among the top actions undertaken at colleges and universities, there was a slight increase in the percentage of college respondents who had worked to improve energy efficiency in 2012 compared with 2011, when 48.3 percent had done so. Also showing increases were: increasing fees (33.2 percent vs. 26.7 percent in 2011); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (27.7 percent vs. 26.4 percent); and reducing hours of operation (26.9 percent vs. 25.8 percent). Actions that were taken by fewer college respondents in 2012 than in 2011 included reducing staff (31.9 percent vs. 32.7 percent).

Colleges were far less likely to be planning staff reductions than any other facility type. Only 1.8 percent of college respondents said they had such plans, compared with 7.1 percent of all respondents. They also were among those more likely to be planning to hire new staff in 2012, with 21.8 percent of college respondents indicating they had plans to add staff.

On average, those with plans to hire or add more staff in 2012 were planning to increase their head count by 14, dominated by part-time workers. College respondents planned to add nine part-time workers, on average, as well as 1.2 full-time employees, 1.1 seasonal employees and one volunteer.