News Release from AASCU


Contact: Susan Chilcott (202) 478-4661

Contact: Dan Hurley (202) 478-4657


Report Offers Recommendations for Curbing Institutional Spending

WASHINGTON, DC— Public colleges and universities rank the identification and implementation of cost containment strategies among their top institutional priorities, according to a study released today by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and SunGard Higher Education. Based on a survey of 114 AASCU member institutions, the study also provides insight into highly replicable “best practices” that could produce effective cost savings and thus increase academic affordability, access and institutional accountability.

“The results of this survey show that public colleges and universities have a vital interest in reducing operational costs on campus, and many successful efforts have been undertaken," says AASCU President Constantine Curris.  Commissioned by AASCU to determine the extent to which cost containment activities are taking place at state colleges and universities, the survey also sought to explore specific sources of cost containment.

The report identifies eight avenues of cost containment and found that institutions primarily rely on three distinct cost containment areas:  Facilities and Infrastructure (87 percent), Business Services and Processes (83 percent) and Academic Programming (82 percent).   Within these broader margins, the study shows the single most relied upon individual cost containment source is energy management at 83 percent, followed by consortium purchasing at 61 percent.  Other sources include facilities management, use of adjunct faculty, bookstore operations, and food service/residence hall operations.

Data suggest that although cost containment activities largely center on business and support functions, most respondents are willing to consider other areas where cost savings could be achieved.  Also of importance is the finding that although respondents are eager to engage in cost containment measures, some report that there is an insufficient amount of funding, staff and time allocated to actual cost containment activities.  

“We believe that public higher education has never been more important to this nation,” stated William H. Graves, senior vice president for academic strategy, SunGard Higher Education.  “Our economic prosperity and future competitiveness depend, in part, on affordable access to higher education.  For their part, AASCU institutions are making cost containment a priority in order to help ensure affordability of access while meeting the national imperative to enroll, support and graduate more students from all walks of the national demographic.”

Based on the study’s findings, the report offers six recommendations for increased institutional savings.  One recommendation encourages institutions to continue to take full advantage of cost containment opportunities in business services and processes, while also seeking greater cost savings in the area of academic programming (without impinging upon the quality of instruction or student learning outcomes).

The findings reveal that although many schools are engaged in cost containment activities, too few actually evaluate and report cost saving effectiveness.  Therefore, among the recommendations is a call for state colleges and universities to be more proactive in both quantifying and communicating their cost containment efforts.  Analysts suggest that this is key not only to decision-making, but also to increasing accountability and transparency.  The report encourages schools to publish cost containment data, perhaps alongside average net tuition and state appropriations. 

The results of the study were analyzed by an independent market research firm, Isurus Market Research and Consulting, and were given contextual analysis by AASCU and SunGard Higher Education.   Institutions provided data through an online survey open from November 2007 through January 2008. 

The report is available online at


AASCU is the leadership association of 430 public colleges and universities Delivering America’s Promise through their common commitments to access, affordability and educational opportunity.  Enrolling more than 3 million students annually throughout the U.S. and its territories, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education, stewardship and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.

SunGard and the SunGard logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of SunGard Data Systems Inc. or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and other countries. All other trade names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.