Scenario Modeling for Higher Education

The COVID-19 pandemic hurt almost all industries financially, perhaps none more than higher education. Institutions of all sizes and types were impacted as enrollment and state funding saw significant cuts and unpredictability for the first time in years. Many institutions quickly found themselves in survival mode, putting together spreadsheets to enable the many potential outcomes driven by unforeseen factors. With each scenario, the complexity and limitations of these offline spreadsheets quickly became more and more transparent.

As the dust has settled, many institutions have realized that while short-term solutions have been put into place, the long-term impact has just begun. Strategic initiatives may have shifted as more work and learning has gone remote, even if many will return. Some institutions will additionally need a plan in place to recover from the substantial deficit that was felt over a few academic years.

With a new (or even more developed) focus on strategic planning going beyond the next year budget, institutions have started looking for tools that have flexibility and high-level strategic capability beyond the typical budgeting solution. While previous functionality may have focused on a heavy user base with significant detail, the same cannot be expected of a new offering intended to quickly turn around high level strategies and related impacts at a moment’s notice.

Oracle’s Scenario Modeling offering is part of Oracle’s EPM Cloud platform. Oracle EPM Cloud provides the functionality to put together various strategic initiatives, inclusive of the flow of data from a more detailed operating expense to the impact on the balance sheet. It allows for finance professionals to create and save multi-year forecast models based on changing metrics as needed to analyze what-if scenarios. These scenarios can be built and turned around quickly whether it be needed for standard operating funds or expanded out to auxiliary / self-support units.

As part of the offering, scenario modeling comes with a variety of tools that are pre-built into the solution to allow for a quick implementation versus the typical budgeting and planning solution. Excel-like functionality allows for a quick and comfortable learning experience when it comes to building up various types of forecasting methodologies within the solution. Furthermore, reporting out of the box in addition to configurable on-demand setups allow for case-by-case outputs.

Examples of scenarios that can be modeled in the solution include:

● Revenue: Tuition and Fees

● Revenue: Other Sources

● Endowment

● Fundraising and Commitments

● Non-Labor Expenses

● Workforce: Faculty and Staff

● Debt Schedule

● Capital Projects

In conclusion, it is clear higher education institutes need to have a solution to put together multiple models quickly across different scenarios. Those that leverage services specifically built for this need will be in position to react faster, determining what decisions to make for the short and long terms.

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