Higher-Education Leaders Look Ahead With Optimism And New Priorities, Survey Finds

Higher-education administrators have some mixed and even contradictory views about the financial future of their institutions, according to a new survey.

While the national and state economies continues to recover at a sluggish pace, 57 percent of the respondents in the Higher Education Outlook Survey, the first such report by the accounting firm KPMG, said they expected their college to be in better financial shape in five years. And 58 percent of respondents said they expected to maintain or increase the amount of sponsored research they receive during that period.

The survey's results are based on 102 responses from senior financial or academic administrators, mostly at well-off public and private colleges and universities.

Nearly half of the respondents said their institution's fiscal health was better than it was five years ago, while 19 percent said there was no change in their college's financial status since the economic downturn.

What the colleges represented in the survey did to survive the recession includes measures that have become standard parts of the higher-education landscape. More than half raised tuition, 45 percent delayed capital projects, and more than a third offered more online classes and cut programs with low enrollments.

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