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    Educational Cost Saving Strategies

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    In tough economic times such as these, schools are squeezed by the rapidly rising costs of salaries, facilities modernization, technological innovation, energy consumption, and bureaucratic excess. The bigger the schools grow, the more propensity they have to lose control over costs.

    It is not so difficult to achieve educational cost savings with proper participatory planning and unyielding stakeholder commitment. Some of the more promising cost saving strategies worth considering are as follows:

    I. Capacity Maximization. This can be done by increasing section size, or increasing the number of sections that each instructor carries for the same workload credit. The implications of this strategy on different enrollment conditions are as follows:

    1. Steady Enrollment

    If course enrollment is steady, the number of people teaching the various courses must be reduced.

    2. Increasing Enrollment

    If course enrollment is increasing the number of people teaching the various courses can be maintained.

    3. Decreasing Enrollment

    If course enrollment is decreasing, the number of people teaching the various courses must be reduced proportionately more than the percentage decline in enrollment.

    II. Direct Teaching Cost Reduction. This is achieved by changing faculty and staff employment mix and load assignment mix so that those with lower pay rates are given priority. This will reduce the total compensation cost by

    1. Employing and giving more loads and assignments to competent teaching assistants and part-time faculty who are paid less than full-time faculty.

    2. Employing and giving more load to competent full-time faculty or staff with lower academic degrees, rank, position and compensation.

    III. Re-engineering educational processes. This is realized by improving and, if necessary, changing educational management and teaching-learning processes to facilitate faster, more economical, and higher quality learning.

    Faculty members are traditionally required to deliver the entire gamut of academic duties such as teaching, research, curriculum and syllabi development, multi-media resource development, etc., by themselves, with insufficient and unreliable technical and financial support. As a result, work inefficiencies arise due to lack of specialization, and cost redundancies persevere due to unnecessary duplication of work and activities. This situation directs us to the following solutions:

    1. Work Specialization. The faculty and staff must be given specialized assignments based on their professional interests and expertise in relation to the various academic activities they are required to perform, i.e., teaching, research, curriculum and syllabi making, multi-media resource development, etc. This policy will:

    • Require that instead of 10 to 20 faculty members preparing the same course syllabi and learning resources, maybe only 2 faculty will be assigned to make them.
    • Create financial savings from elimination of work duplication, save valuable time, and reduce personnel, equipment, facility, utility, materials and supplies, and administrative costs.
    • Give faculty more time to devote on improving the quality of their teaching.

    Theoretical Economic Savings. A monthly paid private employee is required to render 48 hours/week. In employment terms, school personnel must render an equivalent of 48 unit load (48 hours/week x 4 weeks). To complete the 48 unit load, a faculty with a 24 unit teaching load (i.e., 24 hours/week x 4 weeks) actually uses the remaining 24 unit load for teaching support activities such as (a) preparation and enrichment of curricula, syllabi, multimedia presentations, (b) research, (c) checking tests, term papers and other requirements, (d) student advisory time, (e) academic meetings and activities, and (f) extra-curricular activities.

    A college faculty receiving compensation of P15,000 per month with an effective 48 unit load composed of teaching load and teaching support load is in fact compensated for the following services below, although the monthly compensation is computed based on a 24 unit teaching load:

    Value Distribution of College Faculty Salary based on Job Description
    Activities Unit Load Allocation of P15,000/mo Salary Rate Per Load (P) Rate Per Hour (P)
    1. Teaching 24 7,500.00 312.50 78.125
    2. Teaching Support
    a. Syllabi preparation 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    b. Development of Instructional Modules, Multimedia Resources, Online Education 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    c. Research 2 625.00 312.50 78.125
    d. Checking tests, term papers and other requirements
    Not computerized 10 3,125.00 312.50 78.125
    Computerized
    e. Student advisory time 1 312.50 312.50 78.125
    f. Academic meetings and Activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    g. extra-curricular activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    TOTAL 48 15,000.00

    If only 2 out of 10 faculty members are assigned to prepare course syllabi and learning resources, 1 hour of daily syllabi preparation time is saved by 8 out of 10 faculty members. These 8 faculty members each save an equivalent of 5 unit load (1hr/day x 5 days/week x 4 weeks). In money terms, this amounts to P1,562.50 savings which is at least 10% of faculty compensation (for the 8 out of 10 faculty members).

    If 80% (8 out of 10) faculty are relieved from preparing course syllabi and are able to save 10% of faculty compensation, the effective economic cost reduction impact on compensation budget is 8% (80% multiplied by 10%).

    Cost Saving Policy Options. But while 80% of faculty members can theoretically be given up to 3 additional course loads (at 3 units per load) with the same compensation to create financial savings, it increases the teaching load from 24 units to 33 units (i.e., from 4.8 hours to 6.6 hours daily, 5 days a week). There are options for maybe giving a regular 27 unit load (i.e. 5.4 hours daily teaching, 5 days a week) or simply creating more academic overloads, which is cheaper than hiring full-time faculty. However, all of these issues must be clarified and discussed with all stakeholders with the goal of arriving at a win-win situation.

    2. Automation of tedious and boring manual tasks. Testing is the most labor-intensive academic activity performed on a massive scale but requiring lower mental effort from faculty members. If this activity can be automated, the teacher can have more time for the more mentally-challenging activities of syllabi enrichment, multimedia development and instruction. In this regard:

    • Computer-Aided Audit, Review and Testing software can be introduced to allow not only automated testing and instantaneous scoring of test sets but also provide pre-test and post-test review and tutorials to reinforce the learning processes. The software substantially eliminates labor, material, equipment and utility costs incurred in the formulation of test questionnaire, encoding, printing and reproduction, test administration, checking and scoring, recording and reporting.

    Cost Saving Policy Options. Even if it is implemented only for 4 major professional courses every semester, it can easily create net savings of P2,300 per student per semester after removing software, equipment, utility, systems maintenance and supervision expenses.

    • Spreadsheet software can be used to simplify grade computation even if encoding of raw scores and grades are done manually. Quizzes, assignments, term papers, and other major tests which do not use computerized testing software can just be manually checked, then encoded to the computer for grade computation.

    Theoretical Economic Savings. Savings of at least 1 hour per day can be gained. This translates to an equivalent of 5 unit load, or in money terms, P1,562.50, which is computed as 10% of the standard faculty compensation of P15,000 per month.

    Value Distribution of College Faculty Salary based on Job Description
    Activities Unit Load Allocation of P15,000/mo Salary Rate Per Load (P) Rate Per Hour (P)
    1. Teaching 24 7,500.00 312.50 78.125
    2. Teaching Support
    a. Syllabi preparation 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    b. Development of Instructional Modules, Multimedia Resources, Online Education 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    c. Research 2 625.00 312.50 78.125
    d. Checking tests, term papers and other requirements
    Not computerized 10 3,125.00 312.50 78.125
    Computerized
    e. Student advisory time 1 312.50 312.50 78.125
    f. Academic meetings and Activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    g. extra-curricular activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    TOTAL 48 15,000.00

    Cost Saving Policy Options. Faculty members can use the saved time for other teaching support activities that will create value for the school by generating additional revenues (e.g., marketing) or reducing expenses (performing part-time non-teaching job to save salaries usually paid to full-time employees).

    3. Adopt the use of academic software or courseware. The installation of academic software or courseware will result in more efficient and economical delivery of educational services. It however requires the development of instructional modules and support systems comprised of the following:

    • Standardized Course Contents. The contents of Instructional Modules must be in conformity with local and international Policies and Standards for Higher Education.
    • Systematized Syllabi. The Course Syllabi format is integrated, self-contained and modularized. It includes the Course Number, Course Title, Dean’ Information, Instructor’s Information, General Objective, Topics, Enrichment Activities, References & Educational Materials, Case Studies, Assessment Tools, Time Frames, Book References, Grading Policy, and Required Papers. It incorporates all the necessary information for enriched individualized learning.
    • Multimedia. Various forms of multi-media such as Powerpoint Presentations, Video, Audio and Graphics are incorporated as hyperlinks in the Course Syllabi.
    • Digitalized Contents. The Course Syllabi modules, along with the multi-media materials they contain, are produced and distributed in digital formats to facilitate individual and group learning in stand-alone or online modes (using local area network, wide area network, internet).
    • Comprehensive Testing and Remediation. A Computer-Aided Audit Review and Testing System (CAARTS) based on Standardized Course Contents is used to make swift and cost-effective evaluation of student performance. Student tutorials and review programs can also be implemented using this system.
    • Online Education. The digitized syllabi and multi-media can be uploaded to and accessed from the Online Education Website for learners enrolled in pure distance education or blended classroom-online education programs.
    • Digital Library. The creation of a fully-functional Digital Library is necessary to store and access all modularized course syllabi, e-books, e-journals, presentations, films and learning materials needed by teachers through the LAN, WAN, and the internet. The digital Library should also allow learning resource creators from among the faculty and staff, authors and scientists from around the world to contribute, upload and distribute learning materials.

    In addition to the financial savings gained by 1. Work Specialization and 2. Automation of tedious and boring manual tasks, the 3. Adoption of academic software or courseware which makes available modularized instructional materials and multi-media resources will easily generate a 1-hour daily course preparation time savings for faculty members which is equivalent to 5 units academic load, or in money terms, P1,562.50, which is 10% of faculty compensation.

    Value Distribution of College Faculty Salary based on Job Description
    Activities Unit Load Allocation of P15,000/mo Salary Rate Per 

    Load (P)

    Rate Per 

    Hour (P)

    1. Teaching 24 7,500.00 312.50 78.125
    2. Teaching Support
    a. Syllabi preparation 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    b. Development of Instructional Modules, Multimedia Resources, Online Education 5 1,562.50 312.50 78.125
    c. Research 2 625.00 312.50 78.125
    d. Checking tests, term papers and other requirements
    Not computerized 10 3,125.00 312.50 78.125
    Computerized
    e. Student advisory time 1 312.50 312.50 78.125
    f. Academic meetings and Activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    g. extra-curricular activities 0.5 156.25 312.50 78.125
    TOTAL 48 15,000.00

    Cost Saving Policy Options. Faculty members can use the saved time for other teaching support activities that will create value for the school by generating additional revenues (e.g., marketing) or reducing expenses (performing part-time non-teaching job to save salaries usually paid to full-time employees). It also creates possibilities for giving more academic overloads, which is cheaper than hiring another full-time faculty.

    Since the development of academic software and courseware require substantial investments in human expertise, technology and capital, the school must recoup its investments by charging appropriate laboratory and service fees.

    4. Conduct Online Education or Blended Online & Classroom Instruction instead of pure face-to-face class meetings.

    • Pure Online Education can be implemented to access resources and manage (a) educational multimedia, (b) tutorials and tests, (c) academic programs and courses with minimal teacher participation.
    • On the other hand, Blended Online & Classroom instruction is usually used to conduct (a) online review before classes for content learning in preparation for class discussions, (b) after classes for learning assessment, tutorial and remediation, and (c) upload and download learning resources, tests and term papers.

    Cost Saving Policy Options. This strategy allows a faculty to supervise 100 to 200 students instead of just 40 students per class. This reduces direct teaching costs per class by 250% to 500%.

    In this connection, the information technology equipment, facilities and software used by students inside the school can be recouped by charging appropriate laboratory and service fees. Outside the school, in their own homes and other learning environments, the students themselves shoulder their equipment and utility costs.

    New Appointments
    DR. DON PRASAD
    Vice President for International Education-ASIA

    ACADEMICS SOFTWARE
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