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Tackling Budget Challenges in 2024 Part 3: Emergency Preparedness

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What happens on a college campus in the event of a flood? What if a campus is targeted by cybercriminals? These are important questions for colleges and universities to answer, especially from a financial standpoint. But when resources are dear, it can be difficult to allocate them to “what-if” scenarios. Unfortunately, climate change-related disasters are on the rise, and in the wake of the global pandemic and an increase in ransomware attacks, these imagined scenarios are far more likely to be real than hypothetical. How then can institutions work to allocate what limited budgets they have to emergency preparedness? Can corners be cut, or would doing so put an institution at risk of shutting its doors for good?

Part 1 our “Tackling Budget Challenges in 2024” series discussed how institutions can solidify uncertain funding sources, and Part 2 outlined ways for institutions to minimize operating costs. The third and final installment of our series examines instances where institutions must allocate funding for emergency preparedness and where they might be able to economize.

1. Budgeting for Natural Disaster Mitigation and Recovery

Ask any New Orleans or coastal Florida school: catastrophe costs. Most schools in disaster prone locations already have plans to try and moderate the physical tole disasters can take. Some institutions, like Rice University, have even received government funding for disaster mitigation. You can’t skimp on disaster preparedness, but as you set aside funds for infrastructure damage, consider how your current budget might help you avoid some of the heavy costs that can occur after a disaster recedes.

One way to limit the toll a natural disaster can take is migrating your core technology systems to the cloud. Making sure your technology infrastructure isn’t on premises is a larger project, but one that will make a difference should a disaster occur. As you migrate your essential systems to the cloud, make sure that you have also invested in solutions with online learning capabilities. Your students have already paid tuition and are expecting a return on that investment. If a disaster prevents in-person learning, you’ll want to ensure that learning can continue off-campus, too.

2. Budgeting for Public Health Crises

During the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions had to spend a great deal of money on testing, protective equipment, and online learning resources. At the same time, they were losing money on tuition and housing, among other things. The financial toll of the pandemic was so great that institutions like Pine Manor College, Marlboro College, and Vista College had to close their doors permanently.

Budgeting for public health crises is a catch-22. On the one hand, those institutions still recovering from the last public health crises have limited funds to spare. On the other hand, if institutions don’t allocate funding, the next public health crisis might be their last. What’s the solution?

The good news is that many of the solutions institutions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic—online learning technology, classroom safety equipment, etc.—can be reused should another health crisis occur. The better news is that, with a little creativity, some of the systems institutions already have in place can help in the event of a public health crisis. For instance, Crown College used its student retention system to conduct its COVID-19 response, relying on the built-in communications capabilities and early alert system to streamline illness reporting and the follow-up workflow.

Rather than spend a great deal of funding on “what-if” scenarios, invest in the type of every-day software solutions that could come in handy should another public health crisis occur.

3. Budgeting to Mitigate Cybersecurity Threats

With its diverse body of users, aging technology infrastructure, and wealth of data, higher education is a top target for cyber criminals. Higher ed has been hit hard the last few years, and more than half of the institutions hit by ransomware attacks paid to get their data back. Institutions must have a plan in place to address cybersecurity threats. There are many avenues that institutions can take to protect themselves against cybercrime: Investing in multi-factor authentication, patch and vulnerability management, endpoint detection and response solutions, immutable cloud storage, and an incident response retainer have become essential an institution’s cybersecurity plan.

But these steps are expensive and can take a large chunk out of an institution’s budget. If institutions can’t afford to fund these measures, they need to make sure they’re doing everything they can to prevent attacks. This blog provides 10 low-cost ways for colleges and universities to prevent cyberattacks.

Ultimate Takeaways: Discover Where Higher Education Technology Investments Can Save Money

Whether it’s creating greater transparency into college finances, improving enrollment and advancement efforts, creating cost-saving efficiencies, or relief-pitching in emergency situations, modern higher education technology can address a wide range of budgeting problems. This is especially true when those systems are purchased through a single vendor and unified on a cloud platform like Jenzabar One.

Calculating the cost savings of a newer system can be tricky, but it’s also well worth the effort. Institutions operating on Jenzabar One, for instance, have saved upwards of a million dollars by uniting systems, increasing enrollment, improving retention, and streamlining communications in emergency situations. As you look to 2024, it’s well worth your time to investigate how your current systems are working and how they could work better to save you money and help you meet budget goals.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2? Read them here:

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