Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission on Tuesday presented its fourth report as part of its legislative mandate to study the cost efficiency of Virginia’s public four-year institutions of higher education. The report, “Support Costs and Staffing at Virginia’s Higher Education Institutions,” includes findings and recommendations concerning various functions that support the primary mission of institutions.
The study reviewed staffing levels and administrative salaries, as well as costs associated with human resources, information technology, student services, operations and maintenance of plant, procurement and public relations and fundraising activities at the state’s four-year public institutions.
The report finds that spending on support functions increased between 1991 and 2010 (more in the first decade than the second); Virginia institutions spend more on academic support than on other support functions; and institutions could reduce support costs through reviewing organizational structures, implementing more efficient procurement strategies, centralizing staff and automating various processes.
Many of the commission’s general observations and findings about the University of Virginia’s administrative support functions are consistent with findings and opportunities identified through the University’s own organizational review. The report findings reaffirm the importance of the efficiency efforts already under way at the University, officials said.
In 2013, the University bolstered its organizational effectiveness initiative aimed at enhancing the University’s academic mission by better stewardship of financial, physical plant, human and technological resources.
“U.Va. has been a public-sector leader in achieving efficiencies, streamlining operations and minimizing institutional costs while preserving its core academic mission and not sacrificing quality,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said.
According to the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings, U.Va. is the second-best public institution in the country, but ranks 59th in terms of financial resources expended per student. No other institution in the top 25 ranked lower than 38th in financial resources expended per student, and only six other schools in the top 50 ranked lower than U.Va.
“While these rankings clearly show that U.Va. delivers a high-quality education while spending less per student than most institutions, we recognize that there are areas in which we can achieve greater efficiencies without sacrificing academic quality,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick D. Hogan said.
Hogan said the University will carefully review the report’s recommendations and will move quickly to adopt any additional measures not already in practice where appropriate.
The JLARC report is available online. Its final report, “Reducing the Cost of Public Higher Education in Virginia,” will be available in November.