University presidents from Ohio’s 14 public universities that make up the Interuniversity Council (IUC) have agreed to pay for a feasibility study to see how the schools can cut costs by sharing more services.
According to IUC president Bruce Johnson, the universities already share some services. Many of the schools, including Miami University, share the Banner system. They also share insurance and procurement services, according to Johnson.
“We’re looking at the new reality of less money from the state,” Johnson said.
He said the goal of the study is to find ways to cut “backroom stuff” so the majority of remaining state funding can go to the classroom.
“The IUC is collecting bids in October for agencies that could perform such a study,” said Claire Wagner, associate director of university communications.
Wagner said information technology (IT) is an area where the Ohio universities share services. She said an example of this is the fact that Miami’s overnight IT support desk calls go to Wright State University. Wagner said the study will show other ways to share IT services as well as finance and accounting services, procurement and potentially human resources.
“There’s a lot of duplication that goes on in the hiring process and payroll operations,” Johnson said.
Johnson said while all of the university presidents seem to be on board for the feasibility study, they may disagree on what to do with the study results.
“You don’t want to build another bureaucracy,” he said.
According to Johnson, the cost of the study is not yet known because the IUC does not have bids yet. He said the study will cost “in the neighborhood of half a million dollars.”
When the results of the study are fully implemented, Johnson said it will be saving the universities “tens of millions of dollars.” However, he said this savings will be spread between the 14 universities.