College Administrators Rate Health Care, Drug Prices HR Priority

October 2, 2003 ( - Even academics are concerned about the rising health care and prescription drug costs, rating it their number one human resource and benefits issue.

In fact, 75% of the institutes of higher learning polled by The Segal Company said that rising health care and prescription drug costs was “extremely important,” 22% said it was “moderately important,” and 3% said it is “not very important.”

Also weighing heavy on the minds of university administrators are the reductions in state funding and the resulting issues, with 71% rating that as extremely important and 12% seeing it as moderately important. This was followed by 61% that saw “defining HR’s role as a strategic leader on campus” as extremely important (37% said it was moderately important).

After that, issues paled in importance. Nearly four out of 10 (39%) rated internal equity/job evaluation problems as extremely important. Other HR issues rated extremely important included:

  • 38% – labor relations issues due to the struggling economy including potential reductions in benefits and staff
  • 35% – HIPAA issues
  • 33% – using metrics/data to best demonstrate HR’s value
  • 33% – uncertainty surrounding retirement plan performance and what to do about DB or DC models
  • 30% – endowment performance and impact on the operation of the institution
  • 28% – changing nature of the workforce
  • 27% – delayed faculty retirement due to economics.

Other than the cribbed questions on the Segal survey, the campus administrators also wrote in key issues that included strategic issues – organization change and strategic planning – financial issues – budget concerns, general costs, getting employees to take ownership for rising costs – and benefit issues that included additionally benefits for temporary and occasional employees and graduate assistants, long-term care, optional medical and retiree medical coverage. Additionally, filed in were human resources issues, that incorporated affirmative action plans, compensation models, immigration restrictions and outsourcing among the key HR issues facing institutes of higher learning.