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Great Expectations, Bleaker Results

By Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

Higher education consultants tend to project savings beyond what colleges can achieve, sometimes don’t understand the complexities of the institutions they advise, and fail to appreciate the politics around the changes they propose, according to a new study by the Education Advisory Board.

The group, a business that produces research for colleges on some of the same issues on which some institutions hire consultants, did a detailed analysis of cost-reduction efforts at 21 different colleges and universities that hired outside consultants.

Consultants had told those institutions they could, on average, save up to 4 percent of their operating costs if their recommendations were adopted.

The colleges, the study found, saved far less. On many campuses that have hired consultants or considered doing so, faculty leaders have questioned the cost and relative benefits of such arrangements.

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