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The new higher education alliances cropping up are not just of the regional variety.

A group of private colleges and universities created a consortium in fall 2015 to negotiate better deals on enterprise resource planning systems, which can account for up to 4 percent of an institution’s entire annual budget. The Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium (HESS) now has 65 members located in 15 states.

Colleges or universities looking to join a higher education consortium have two major options: alliances that are regionally based or those focused on a common goal.

Schools that choose to participate in a regional consortium have the advantage of being able to easily meet with other members to discuss common issues.

Accommodations in action: Administrators from several Bentley University departments worked together to help ensure Deyven Ferreras—who entered college with a mechanical device for his weakened heart—could safely and successfully pursue a postsecondary education.

Increasingly, colleges and universities enroll students with a wide array of physical and mental health conditions. Legal guidelines that put the onus on students to request accommodations—plus the departmentalization of services—can make it difficult to come up with a coordinated plan for a student.

At Juniata College in Pennsylvania, students took Arabic for the first time last fall by enrolling in a course at Gettysburg College via video conference.

Amherst College students, meanwhile, can major in architectural studies by taking classes at four neighboring colleges. And at Cabrini College near Philadelphia, students from five institutions researched viruses last summer in a new undergraduate science program.

Creating new academic initiatives with other institutions relies on three key ingredients: interest in the program from faculty and students; commitment from each campus administration; and a reasonable opportunity for success.

This advice comes from Neal Abraham, a physics professor and executive director of the Five Colleges, Incorporated in Massachusetts. It’s the second largest consortia in the country behind the Claremont University Consortium in California.

Here are some other tips from consortia leaders:

Two- and four-year colleges across the nation have plugged the black hole of remediation with a range of programs designed to keep students enrolled while steering them toward greater levels of success.

With the need to host both one-on-one donor chats plus receptions for a hundred or more alumni and friends, campus alumni houses tend to be versatile venues. While great rooms must have space for that next big event, the aim is for an intimate group not to feel swallowed up by the space.

The madness of March swirls around the excitement of collegiate sports. The most successful Division I teams are competing for tournament wins—and the large cash payouts associated with those high-profile victories.

Fans pack the University of Kentucky arena for every basketball game, keeping ticket revenues high. (Photo: UK Athletics)

As one would expect, successful athletic programs benefit their college or university in a number of ways—particularly in the admissions arena. They raise public awareness of the school, reaching prospective students who may not otherwise have heard of or looked at the university, says Scott Verzyl, associate vice president for enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions for the University of South Carolina.

A more centralized approach to course scheduling at Somerset Community College has increased the rates of filled classroom seats and helped students fit in the courses they need to graduate on time. Between 2008 and 2014, the average seat-fill rate has increased by 24 percent and the average student credit load has increased by 48 percent.

Students don’t quite run the show when it comes to course scheduling. But colleges and universities are striving to make it easier for them—with their ongoing juggle of work, family and school commitments.

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