Professional Services for Higher Education

2023 Year-In-Review

Published on Mar 19, 2024

Written by Mary Claire Salmon & Remie Verougstraete

Highlights and project examples

Last year, Lightcast Education’s Professional Services team had the opportunity to complete projects for hundreds of colleges, universities, and state systems throughout the US and Canada. We consider this a big win—not just because we love data, research, and the amazing people who work in higher education (though we most certainly do!).

We also consider it a win because this means that over 240 colleges, universities, and state systems in North America received the data they need to demonstrate their value and improve their market alignment in 2023.

As a result, these institutions are attracting investment and making program decisions to keep both themselves and their students ready for the future of work.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the work we did last year, and the capabilities we’re pleased to offer for 2024 and beyond.

Regions (and select institutions) served in 2023

Last year, we had the privilege to do work in 30 states and six Canadian provinces (see light purple shading in the map below).

We love seeing our clients get the word out by sharing their study results publicly. In the following map, we’ve highlighted 14 institutions that are doing just that. Click the dark purple dot to select the institution, then click the hyperlinked name of the report to learn more about that project.

Unique solution examples

We love finding ways to quantify and capture the unique value of each institution, even if that means going beyond what’s covered in a conventional impact study. 

Here are some of the more unique, customized projects we were privileged to complete last year (click the report name to view the results):

University of Iowa, Economic Impact Study

The University of Iowa (UI) impacts the Hawkeye State beyond its principal mission of educating students and training the next generation of professionals. As the home of the state’s premier hospital, the UI and its faculty, staff, and students provide healthcare to tens of thousands of Iowans each year. What’s more, this report found that their robust culture of volunteerism has led to students and employees donating an amount of working hours equivalent to $6.3 million in earnings. Well done!

San Bernardino Community College District, Capital Analysis 

In November of 2018, Measure CC was passed in San Bernardino County, allotting significant local funding that would enable the community’s colleges within the District to expand to serve more students. Last year, the San Bernardino Community College District asked Lightcast to conduct a Capital Analysis to Measure CC’s Impact. The results? From 2019 to 2033, Measure CC will provide a total economic impact on the Inland Empire economy of $222.4 million in added income (i.e. income that would not exist without Measure CC). That’s what we call a good investment. 

The Alabama Technology Network, Economic Impact Study

The main mission of the Alabama Technology Network (ATN) is to provide extensive workforce training, technical assistance, and engineering services to Alabama companies. But how do you measure how well you’re living up to your mission? ATN decided to look to the data—and the data spoke for itself. Lightcast’s Economic Impact Study found that in fiscal year 2020-21, ATN helped businesses retain or grow by nearly 2,000 jobs and added a whopping $213.3 million to the Alabama economy.

Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Economic Impact Study

What if you could show your state that for every dollar of public money invested in your science center, taxpayers would receive a cumulative value of $1.80 back? That’s exactly what the Texas A&M University Health Science Center did with their economic impact study. And that’s not to mention their impact of $1.3 billion in income to the Texas economy during the analysis year—a number that has us wondering if everything really is bigger in Texas. 

The Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities, Private System Economic Impact Study 

The Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities plays a critical role in the Oregon economy, and now, they have the data to prove it. This study found that one out of every 59 jobs in Oregon is supported by the activities of The Alliance member institutions and their students. Not only that, but the $3.5 billion they added to the economy was equal to 1.3% of the total gross state product of Oregon—making their contribution even larger than the entire Utilities industry in the state!

SUNY Westchester Community College, Program Specific Economic Impact Study

Did you know that you can get a program-specific economic impact study? That’s exactly what SUNY Westchester Community College decided to do for their Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Program, and for good reason. The results of this analysis found that throughout the fiscal year 2021-22 students’ working lives, New York taxpayers will gain $5.6 million in added tax revenue and public sector savings, demonstrating the value of this program beyond question.

Education Professional Services solutions

Drawing from our wide-reaching experience in 2023, we’re excited to offer the following solutions to continue helping our clients become future-ready in 2024 and beyond:

  • Economic Impact Study – Use quantitative data to demonstrate your institution’s value to students, taxpayers, and the broader community.

  • Capital Analysis – Calculate the expected benefits to your regional economy from a capital project or strategic initiative.

  • Value of a Degree/Program – Show prospective and current students the expected return on investment for degrees or specific programs at your institution.

  • Program Demand Gap Analysis – Get decision-ready insight from our economists into how your programs align (or don’t) with regional market demand.

  • Program Recommendation Tool – Identify and explore areas of opportunity for program development at the regional market level.

  • Detailed Program Market Analysis – Dive deep and become the data expert in skills, job titles, employers, and institutional competitors for particular programs of interest.

(💡Tip: Download this quick reference guide to Lightcast Education Professional Services offerings for a concise, shareable overview of the ways our economists can serve your institution.)

If these solutions or examples resonate with you, or sound like something your institution could benefit from, let us know—we’d love to hear from you and explore how our data and expertise can help!