Audit and tax firm Grant Thornton LLP has released its eighth annual
report on the state of higher education, written by professionals
at the firm and directed at leaders and board members of higher
education institutions. Included in the report are articles on using
data analytics in new ways, supporting students who have mental
health challenges, using artificial intelligence to transform operations,
employing nontraditional approaches to filling talent gaps,
and founding a national university system.
For instance, in the article “Effecting greater change through
data analytics,” authors Claire Esten and Natalie Wood, both of the
firm’s not-for-profit and higher education practices division, note
that schools can use data in ways that go beyond promoting student
success and enrollment growth. They write that universities
can use data analytics to predict fraud and even identify instances
of noncompliance, such as determining whether a professor is giving
preferential treatment to student athletes.
Data also can help institutions detect fraud
related to student financial aid by analyzing
patterns in online applications and related activity.
Esten and Wood go on to discuss new pedagogical technologies
that track the pace of learning, flag potential plagiarism, and highlight
when specific students are struggling with coursework.
The co-authors admit that educators and administrators can
feel overwhelmed by the flood of data. They advise users to start
small, with readily available and reliable data; to focus on one topic
at a time instead of launching initiatives across the university; and
to start with an area like finance before expanding into other realms
of the institution.
Access the report.