Institutional Analytics gathers data to support university budget decisions
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
Information Technology Services (IT Services) developed a new way for Miami University to gather data, called Institutional Analytics (IA).
This data includes anything from class enrollments to salaries to how many students from one high school are in a specific major. IA will help the university make more informed decisions, such as which classes to offer and what policies to make, and become more efficient in its operations, according to Phyllis Wykoff director of Business Intelligence at IT Services.
“The data itself doesn’t make [the university] more efficient,” Wykoff said. “Reacting and making decisions makes it more efficient. We provide the information so people can make intelligent decisions.”
IA provides the university with the opportunity to analyze data it did not have in the past, according to Senior Communication and Web Coordinator for IT Services Randy Hollowell.
“In a lot of ways up to this point we haven’t had all the information that we could to be able to make decisions,” Hollowell said. “Obviously the more information you have the better decisions can be made.”
IA is working on data models to look at university revenue received through the bursar’s office. According to Wykoff the revenue data will provide information for the new budget model, which will go into effect July 2013 for fiscal year 2014.
This data model will help the university look at how much revenue was generated across a variety of departments, according to Wykoff.
For example, data can be generated to determine how much revenue was generated by not only the English Department, but by first-years in English courses, business majors in English courses, and by any specific section of an English class.
“I think [IA] has the ability to really change the way we do business,” Wykoff said.
According to Wykoff, IA will also develop models for Human Resources (HR) and enrollment management in the near future.
The enrollment management model will help the university analyze student retention rates and student success.
The more models are developed, according to Wykoff and Hollowell, the more the data can tie together and the more informed decisions can be made.
“In the past a lot of the times departments or areas within the university would work in their little silo,” Hollowell said. “But now this is allowing sort of that cross-functional talking between the bursar’s office, between us, between HR, between the academic areas, so through the data we’ve had more interaction than ever before.”
For example, with both an HR model and a revenue model, the university can analyze the revenue of a department and the salaries and benefits paid to that department.
“We can look at ‘are we covering our costs?’” Wykoff said.
According Wykoff not only does the data help university officials make decisions it can also help them see if their decisions are working.
“You can start to the see the impact of your decisions in the next set of data that comes along,” Wykoff said.
One of the goals for IA in the future is to analyze student performance.
“If you get a D minus in calculus and you’re a math major we need to intervene pretty quickly, and start to have that at the hands of the advisors,” Wykoff said.
However, this does not mean that personal information such as grades will be readily available to all university personnel.
Wykoff said no IA operation will infringe upon the privacy of students protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws.