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Articles: Commerce

While each campus is unique, an audit may reveal surprising  information about the many places credit cards are accepted as  payment. (Click to enlarge)

Those involved in securing credit card data used in higher ed transactions need to be aware that banks are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these activities. It’s more important than ever that campus officials get a firm hold on, and a clear understanding of, this aspect of their operations.

Payment solution providers were asked: What is the biggest vulnerability you see when it comes to PCI compliance at colleges and universities?

The world of intellectual property is not the easy goldmine it may appear to be from the outside. There is a business behind selling scholarly works, whether they fall into the patent or copyright realms of IP--both forms are citizens of the university world, though with completely different issues and revenue streams.

While trademark would not generally be considered scholarly material that is serving the public good, the $4.6 billion a year it generates for institutions does help them remain more healthy and visible.

That total makes it the second largest category of licensed merchandise in the country, behind only Major League Baseball, says Andrew Giangola, vice president of Strategic Communications at Collegiate Licensing Company, a sports marketing company that represents nearly 200 colleges and universities.

Fair trade is a model in which producers are paid above market, “fair trade” prices provided they meet specific labor, environmental and production standards. (Photo:  Photograph by James Rodriguez, 2013, Fair Trade USA. All rights reserved)

Last fall Cabrini College (Pa.) became one of only 17 colleges and universities in the United States to be recognized as a “Fair Trade College.” (The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh was the first in 2008.)

Who's buying what?

When it became clear that the scientific equipment in hundreds of labs across the University of Pittsburgh campus was not being maintained effectively, professionals in the university procurement department began looking for a new provider to do the job.

The university had long relied on a purchasing cooperative to secure favorable contracts with vendors for bulk products such as office supplies. When administrators discovered that the cooperative had established an agreement with Specialty Underwriters (SU), a provider of equipment maintenance, their search was over.

Reverse auctions have, by some accounts, proven to save institutions more than 40 percent on goods and services.

Seconds tick by. Vendors submit bid after bid in real time, battling it out to win the business of the campus procurement office. The opposite of eBay, this reverse auction format results in the price going down with each bid.

Upon deciding that a more uniform approach was required when it came to the nontuition revenue being generated by departments across campus, The University of Alabama officials established policies designed to regain control of what had been, up to that point, highly decentralized.

Segmented into three areas—revenue-generating operations, credit card operations, and eCommerce ventures—the policies centralized the oversight and handling of funds within the student receivables office.

At Armstrong Atlantic State University, the business and finance department created a policy in 2011 that covers how to establish any revenue-producing activity.

Such activity is defined as that which generates revenue from the sale of products or services provided by the university or university employees.

Prior to establishing an account for this activity, a department must take the following steps:

When it comes to nontuition payments, college and university officials want the best of both worlds, says Daryl Robinson, director of higher education product development and strategy for Nelnet Business Solutions.

On the one hand, they’re expressing the need to centralize the accounting of revenue generated by departments across campus. On the other hand, there’s the realization this effort is often best handled by those individual departments.

At the University of Alabama, athletics fans can check out the Bryant Museum, covering UA sports history. It’s just one of several revenue-generating spots on campus where payments are made.

From the sale of tickets to athletic or performing arts events, to housing and parking fees and fines, as well as merchandise sales and event sponsorships, there are myriad alternative sources of revenue coming in to various departments on a given campus throughout the year.

Increasingly, colleges and universities, like their corporate counterparts, are being asked to do more with less. Vendors can play a key role in offering expertise, reducing workload, and saving money.

In the life of an institution, the chief financial officer helps drive the big narrative, but also digs down into the day-to-day. A CFO is strategist and analyst, decision-maker and inspirer, and protector and possibility-seeker all in one.

The U of Arkansas Bookstore, which resides in the 50,000-square-foot, retail-focused Garland Center on campus, uses text messaging and mobile coupon offers to drive traffic. The promotions target specific demographics based on current marketing needs and goals.

As books become digital and online retailers distribute college branded T-shirts, Pillow Pets, and logo-emblazoned caps, the future of college stores faces many uncertainties. College retailers, however, hold advantages other retailers would give their right cash register for: a captive audience, a well-recognized local (or national) brand, and a steady stream of new customers who have little choice but to shop at your store, at least once in a while.

Park2Fly

Officials at Purchase College, State University of New York, as elsewhere, have sought innovative ways to keep tuition low and cut costs. One such effort is Purchase Park2Fly (PP2F), now in existence for a year. The program allows passengers at neighboring Westchester County Airport to park on the campus’ vacant parking lot, at a cheaper rate than they could get on airport grounds and with a shuttle that picks up and drops off passengers to the airport.

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