29: Enrollment Growth Simulation Modeling at Worcester Polytechnic Institute w/ Dr. Raafat Zaini

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Raafat Zaini, Research Scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute discusses the dynamic enrollment model for university expansion he created at WPI and the interdependence between enrollment factors and cost centers to create a scalable model for growth detailed in his research study, Let’s Talk Change in a University: A Simple Model for Addressing a Complex Agenda.

Dr. Raafat Zaini's research interest is in the area of organizational dynamics and innovation sustainability with a focus on a multi-perspective design approach and dynamic modeling of R&D organizations and higher education institutions. Raafat holds a B.S in mechanical engineering (KFUPM 1990), M.S. in aeronautical and industrial engineering (Purdue 1999) and Ph.D. in system dynamics and organization behavior (WPI 2017).

You can reach Dr. Zaini at rzaini@wpi.edu and on both Twitter and LinkedIn @raafatzaini

You're listening to enrolment growth,university from Helik Education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Ediu podcast networkImericalson AVP of marketing at helicks education and were here today with DctrRafat Zani Research, scientist at Woster, poly, technic institute, DoctorZanie, welcomed to the show. Thank you AI, for having me perhaps more thananyone. DOTR ZANI is uniquely qualified to be a guest on a Roman GrowthUniversity because he actually built out an anroman growth model simulatorat WPI to better understand the interdependence of all the differentanroman growth factors ad an institution but before we dik into thatdoctor Zaneie can du the listeners a little bit better understanding of bothwooster pilotechnic institute and your role there. So what's The polotechnicinstitute or WPI for short, is a small engineering school that is located in the heart of Massachusetts. It is verywell known, for it is project based learning for theundergraduate programs, and it has also a strong and growing graduate programas well. We can call it ahead in gem if you will- and my role is a researchscientist at the Social Science and Policy Studies, a WPI and during my studies I worked at theinterdisciplinary connection between the social sciences modelling ansimulation and group organization, Behavior Awesome.Dr Say what was the original goal behind this dynamic and Roman model foruniversity expansion that you built out...

...a WPI? So the original goal was tocreate space for both of the Administrationand faculty views to be represented around this important topic. That isenrollment growth, and so your model simulation show that individual,stateholders and departments are very good at fighting for and getting whatmakes their world more efficient, more profitable, a more effective and Romangrowth engine for the university, but that they don't always understand howtheir decisions impact the rest of the institution. How can an institutionavoid these kinds of decisions made in isolation, and is it's simply a greaterawareness of things like your model and the interdependence between all theseandroman growth factors? So, first of all, you know such decisions need to betaken. As a group there's need to be more involvement of more stakeholderswho are touched by such issues. I mean enrollment. Growth could be a quickdecision. However, the implications of that would manifest itself over time.Some of them would be short term that will show up, and some of them will belong term. So the building the model is just making these interconnections moreexplicit and also helps each stakeholder around the table representwhat this think is going to happen or even describe the reality of thesituation. So this is how we see a too like modeling and simulation is helping.Those takeholders have a better conversation. One of the mostFascinateng things I think I took away from your paper- is that your modelquestions the very idea that, in Roman growth, is truly a net revenue increase,because increase in rollment obviously does increase net revenue, but alsotriggers other cost centers such as neening additional faculty andfacilities that can have high price...

...points. Yes, you know when addingstudents, students needs services, but first of all they need professors toteach them, and this is what was the core of the model was that the facultyhad fear that with he, rondrorment growth, quality wild decline, and ittook us a long time to figure out what this quality mean of education and weended up settling at doesn't have to do with reputation, doesn't have to dowith drinking. It has to do what the institution promised its students todeliver to them and when the university fails for shore to deliver what itpromises like offering courses on time, getting them to at the right term, right semesterhaving faculty available for Advising and also for questions and office hours,having love space for them to conduct experiments or new ways of teaching allthese com and amplify. So, for example, if there is a student to faculty ratiothat the university has operated over the years with and suddenly changingthat number, it's not just utilizing the time of the faculty moreefficiently. It creates all sorts of of issues. The least of it probably wouldbe the noad on the faculty if it is a a myiutsa relevant, I relatively smallrate of growth, but going from a class of ten to twenty or maybe Ttonoditarium's size without having even ta support for them. This would be a hugeissue and could a short term policy could be. You know, let's hire morefaculty quickly, but then, if you hire...

...faculty more quickly to close thedemand on them, are you hiring faculty with the quality or your hiding facultyto only fill the gaps and say that the new program was created in order toentice enrollment this program, and this new faculty may be need lap spaceso adding more faculty without being able to provide lad that lap spacewhich takes longer time to provide would have its negative consequences.So when facilities faculty enrollment people and h also those who assest thequality of the education, don't talk at each other and think about that decision. Then at least prioritize the issuesthat they have to tackle each and one by one would create a chaos aroundcampus and everybody is trying to maximize or improve their performanceto to the best tand. You know, then it kicks a vicious cycle of trying again to toup enrollment in order to meet other issues that was created from just adding more students and and watch.What's going to happen, it's absolutely fascinating. Did your model orstimulations find any kind of ideal equilibrium in terms of what that ratioshould look like between in Roman growth and new faculty and New FacilityRequirements, that more institutions should try to target in order tomaximize efficient in scalble growth, so I would say Thare is no. You knowprescription to give here. However, every institution knows how it operates,and this is probably an tacit knowledge that people have whenthey make it explicit. They come to know what arnhat their capabilities are,for example, hiring...

...faculty. How long does it taketypically to Higher Faculty Hes Tat like it depends people maybe take twoyears, maybe take five years for maybe a few months to these IMFORT data areimportant. How long does it take to expand facility or modify facility?These numbers are important when the number of students is increased. How many unitsto fload will be added to the faculty? Is The university teaching focused ofresearch focus or both how the performance is evaluated for faculty?Is it based on number of students? They teach number of papers, they publish or service that they do to theuniversity. When people start talking about all these things, they figuredout the right mix. If you will, what the moder helps them to do is input allthese values in the model and run stimulation and see, what's going tohappen and then run multiple scenarios with the maximum menimum values ofthese numbers. Look at the graduation grades and also decrease them orincrease them and see whether we are creating a short term issue that willbe resolved or long term issue. Are we agreeing that you know what we areincreasing the faculty load by like ten percent and then have agreement? Let itbe discussed in within the faculty sphere. Let it bediscussed in other spheres as well, but when they agree on these rates or these issues, when they execute people willbe more committed to live th with the consequences and even try to improvethem. So the short answer to your...

...question is no. I don't have hard or number or certain you know,values to our practices. To suggest accept that you know make these thingsexplicit, put them on the table, talk about them, make decision, go and thenreevaluate, it's terrific advice within Roman growth, such a primary topic andchallenge for for so many institutions. Today, I'm curious the feedback you'vereceived to your paper and your model both throughout the industry, but butas well, specifically on unwoocster how it's been received, so we were luckywhen we developed the model. We had a good group of Faculty member senior, a faculty memberand from different schools, and also from the administration and sitting onthe table, was vice president of enrollment and marketing. So she was Innstrumentol to the success ofbuidilding, the Mobel as far as also the an the faculty to and we've spent,I mean a new number of sessions where we discuss important topics and explain,what's happening in marketing and what's happening in fact of the loadand what's happening in facilities. We did not have an inclusive team thatalso have people frompet from other departments, but the prototype of themodel was created to demonstrate whether we are able to find interesting dynamics. Findinginteresting relationships that is worth expanding and one anecdotal story is that we werebuilding the model one of the Faculty member noticed that he was advocatingfor decreasing the faculty load by adding more faculty, but what henoticed that, when adding more faculty quickly, we ar adding more loads onfacilities so that solution, despite...

...that, it helped faculty, but it'shurting somewhere else and it it comes back to faculty because they would besuffering more from space. So the point is we were able to discover new venuesfor discussion without even having more people on the table. The plan was to totake this further and financials to it. There is a poto typewith financial as it has to go and you know meet the have the financial peoplealso involved and also look at graduate student population as well, which isnot included right now. I have presented this modelin several conferences and it was then published as a paper the feedback thatI got that it it is really describing despite it's a ver, very small model,the dynamics that's happening. We are advocating this model to be used instrategic planning. It's not used yet, but you know, I know that such way of doing things is different andpeople need to be comfortable being involved and Mul inusing it, and for that reason it's still a prototypein terms of its fficacy in influencing policies-and you know, making change through a model is just one step towards creatingthat conversation, but it doesn't create that change. We need agents whobelieve in using such tools and making them common practice in the in the boardroom, and you know- and italso starts in the classroom by teaching people about it's such a greatidea, Dr Zani. Finally, what were the...

...biggest takeways from your modelsimulations that other institutions should at least consider when they'relooking to increase in H, Romant ot their institution and that they can beaware of you know the interdependent factors of doing so. So I think themost important point is that improvements in one domain say in thiscase inromant growth. It could be other things as well TBAT. It's just ourfocus right now could create issues in another domain, so the the outcome thatwouldg Tor inisolations and make decisions independently that sometimesthis is inevitable and growth decisions that are made at any time. They reallytake time to recover from its ther, are unintended consequences and speciallydecisions, logterm decisions and financial commitments to facilitiesconstructions when they are combined with limitationon hiring high quality faculty could lead to negative consequences on theinstitution. To that. These are three important points that pertains touniversities. I would also make another point regarding building simulationmodels that they don't have to be sophisticated and include so many variables, but it'simportant to show the interdependence of the relationships and also thiswould help stakeholders to feel comfortable using such tools and seiingthem built gradually, because the essence of it isto be used for communication and exchange for views and creatingscenarios that people can relate to and feel representative represented around the table. And the final pointis that you know getting good tools or models is not sufficient to createchange. It's important that we have...

...people on the ground who are able totake this and move forward with it doctor anmy. Thank you so much forjoining us today. What is the best place for listeners to connect with youif they have any followup questions or want to start a model at their owninstitution? So they can reach me at my email, R, Zeni at WPI that IDU andPalso available on social media, twitter and Linktan at our trafit Sany. So they can find methat and I'm happy to answer any question. Awesome thanks against. Somuch for your work and your incredible aditions to the anroman growthconversation that I think ar just starting doctors, Daning thanks o muchfor your time. Thank you for having me attracting today's new post.Traditional learners means adopting new enromant strategies. Keelics educationsdata driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth is uniquely helpingcolleges, ind universities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helexhas just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook,with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing enromant growth challenges download it today. For Free at Helocks,Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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