Predicting the future is something we all wish we could do. But to get a small glimpse of tomorrow, you could do worse than taking a quick look around the foyer of any university campus. There you’ll see the future leaders of industry and the guardians of tomorrow’s knowledge.

But at these seats of learning, it’s not just the students who seek to continually expand their knowledge. The universities and colleges themselves are looking to learn more too, to allow them to predict the future.

The University of Liverpool has been working with business analytics specialist Barrachd to develop a new, cutting-edge student number planning tool that will do just that – allowing university departments to accurately forecast staff numbers and expenditure.

The solution created by Barrachd already allows staff to plan their student numbers throughout the Planning and Performance Cycle, while testing scenarios to obtain immediate feedback on the impact of varying student intakes on School and Departmental headcounts, student FTE and income over a set period.

The system is now being developed to enable detailed forecasts of staff numbers and expenditure too. This will allow departments to scenario plan their future staff profiles and student-staff ratios, as well as model income and expenditure in more detail.

Anita Wright, Head of Strategic Planning at the University, said: “The planning tool is a key element in our suite of business intelligence products and has already delivered significant benefits for our student number planning processes.  We are looking forward to developing the workforce planning model over the coming months.”

Student recruitment forecasts based on current applications, offers and decisions are currently being run through the planning tool to show how these numbers translate into student FTE and income compared to current plans.

The tool is also being used by the university’s facilities, residential and commercial services, as well as student administration and support to understand and plan for prospective student numbers.

Barrachd University Planning

“We want to use our income streams to invest in the future – to invest in new buildings, in new facilities or in new residences for the students,” continues Anita. “To do this, we have to accurately predict how many students are going to join the university. That allows us to plan the resource we need to teach those student, the space we need to host them in lecture theatres and how we manage their timetables.”

Previously the University had been reliant on an Excel model, which had become too big, too unwieldy and single person reliant – it could take weeks for someone to get an answer to what should be a relatively simple question. “We can now spend our time thinking about strategy instead of thinking about single numbers,” adds Anita.

Harnessing the power of data to accurately forecast future models is allowing the university to proactively interrogate its data and predict trends and behaviour – meaning that it’s not just the students that are looking ahead to the future.

Read our blog post on how we are using analytics to make universities smarter 




Posted in Cognos, Education On June 8, 2015 By

Author Bio

Gordon Laing

Gordon Laing

After years spent plying a trade in journalism, I changed. But journalists never really change, do they? It’s always been about finding and sharing the best insight. And always will be.

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