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Higher education's flawed recession response

William Patrick Leonard (SolBridge International School of Business, Daejeon, South Korea)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 4 March 2014



The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reality that recessions experienced by the larger economy also impact the higher education sector, institutional leaders’ failure to prepare for the inevitable and to introduce proactive steps that should be considered.


The author notes that while recessions cannot be accurately predicted, they are inevitable. Without anticipating and preparing for the inevitable revenue shortfall institutional responses tend to be reactive and too often draconian.


Yet, institutions routinely prepare for a broad array of liabilities that occur far less frequently. Failing to recognize the inevitability of the next recession and to prepare for its uncertain arrival is a neglect of fiduciary responsibility. To prepare for the inevitable, institutional leaders are encouraged to ask five fundamental questions to minimize the future need to make draconian budget cuts.

Research limitations/implications

There is a literature gap in the failure to recognize the individual and institutional damage resulting from reactive responses to the business cycle's recession phase.

Practical implications

As the business cycle's Great Recession of 2008 enters its recovery, phase institutional leaders will have an opportunity to prepare for the next unavoidable recession. Scholars will have accompanying opportunities to track the success or failures of their preparations when the next recession materializes.


The higher education sector's vulnerability and lack of preparedness has largely gone unnoticed. Proactive preparation, rather than reactive, responses are needed to minimize damage to the institution, its students, faculty and staff.



Patrick Leonard, W. (2014), "Higher education's flawed recession response", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 257-264.



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