When You're Not A Fan (of Outsourcing)

While many college and university administrators have good experiences with outsourcing (explaining why they keep doing it and increasing the number of outsourced services), not everyone is a fan. There are two ways of measuring success: by satisfaction and business outcomes.

“Understanding that this is subjective,” says Nick Owen, expert in digital and IT transformation and member of New York-based PA Consulting Group’s management team. “I’d say the satisfaction statistic is probably 50-50, meaning 50 percent of clients believe they have had their objectives fulfilled, and 50 percent have not. And I’d say that, regarding business outcomes, probably 70 percent of clients are satisfied and 30 percent have had unintended outcomes.”

For those of you who are not outsourcing fans, check out Faculty Forward Network (FFN, facultyforwardnetwork.org). According to the website, “The FFN is an activist faculty organization that improves faculty working conditions, supports increased public investment in instruction and research, and is fighting the corporatization of higher education.”

The organization has a toolkit to help you learn more and raise awareness regarding subcontracting or outsourcing practices on your campus. The “toolkit includes:

  1. Tools for researching if your college of university is subcontracting or outsourcing services.
  2. A sample Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting copies of agreements with subcontractors.
  3. An action plan for concerned community activists to prevent or call into question any negative outsourcing or subcontracting agreements.
  4. A sample letter to the board of trustees you can use to request they do not agree to subcontracting or outsourcing agreements, or rescind existing agreements.”

Find the toolkit at: facultyforwardnetwork.org.

Another resource to check out is a white paper titled “Issues and Concerns in the Privatization and Outsourcing of Campus Services in Higher Education,” which can be found at ncspe.tc.columbia.edu/working-papers/OP10.pdf.

The paper is published by National Center for the Study of Privatization of Education (ncspe.tc.columbia.edu), which “provides nonpartisan documentation and analysis of privatization in education. We conduct research, host conferences, and post working papers. Our topics range from preschool to tertiary education, both at home and abroad.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.

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