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New Demographics and New Revenue Streams: A Real-Time Case Study

Higher education faces the dual challenge of addressing demographic shifts and financial sustainability. Rich Phillips, Dean of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, spoke with Eduvantis President Tim Westerbeck on The Business Education Revolution Podcast to discuss a visionary approach that intertwines innovation, inclusivity, and financial sustainability, presenting a compelling narrative for the future of higher education.

The Enrollment Cliff and Innovative Responses

The so-called “enrollment cliff” has led to a 15% drop in college enrollment since 2011. This represents a seismic shift in the demographics of potential college students and their access to higher education. Rich Phillips articulates the crux of the issue: “There’s a great concern in management education these days as to where the new revenue streams are going to come from…and the sustainability of the enterprise in many cases is being threatened.” This statement underscores the urgency for innovative strategies that go beyond traditional revenue models.

Georgia State University’s success in attracting and retaining traditionally underserved populations serves as both a beacon of social good and a strategic approach to generating essential new revenue streams. Phillips highlights the potential in “historically untapped markets” as a means to counterbalance downward trends. This approach not only addresses the immediate financial challenges but also aligns with the broader mission of inclusivity and equity in higher education.

The Socioeconomic Divide and Access to Education

The conversation between Westerbeck and Phillips sheds light on the stark disparities in college attendance and success rates across socioeconomic lines. Phillips emphasizes the need to understand and address the barriers that prevent these students from pursuing higher education.

Innovative Solutions for Student Success

Georgia State’s proactive measures, such as the introduction of a 24/7 chatbot to support student queries and the Summer Success Academy, exemplify Phillips’ vision of an educational system that supports students from enrollment through to graduation. These initiatives are not just about improving enrollment numbers; they are about ensuring that students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, have the support and resources they need to succeed. 

Phillips remarks, “It’s not just about enrollment, is it? It’s about retention as well.” 

This holistic approach to student success reflects a deep understanding of the challenges faced by first-generation and low-income students.

The Future of Higher Education

Looking ahead, Phillips recognizes the imperative of aligning higher education with the demands of the 21st century. The convergence of social issues, technology, and changing demographics calls for a reimagined approach to education—one that fosters diversity, inclusivity, innovation and financial sustainability. Phillips’ insights into leveraging untapped markets and enhancing the value proposition of higher education resonate with a broader vision of an equitable and sustainable future for the sector.

The insights shared by Rich Phillips, alongside the innovative strategies employed by Georgia State University, may offer a blueprint for addressing the current challenges in higher education. 

By focusing on inclusivity, leveraging technology, and redefining value, institutions can navigate the changing landscape with resilience and foresight. Phillips emphasizes every institution must find its path to sustainability, ensuring that higher education remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for all segments of society.

Listen to the full podcast.

Listen to the full conversation with Dean Phillips on The Business Education Revolution Podcast.