3 Ways Contract Management Software Can Improve Accountability in Higher Education Institutions

May 18th, 2023

College is a lot of work: the late nights writing essays, hours in the library, and crunching for finals can tire even the most enthusiastic student.

But the true lifeblood of higher education isn’t the curriculum or syllabus but rather the contracts that work behind the scenes to make all of this possible.

Without contracts, there would be no campus, no professors, and no administration would not exist. This article explores the kinds of contracts higher education institutions require, why accountability is important for higher education institutions, and how contract management software can help.

Key Takeaways:

  • Higher education institutions handle a wider range of contracts than most organizations, making contract management software especially valuable.
  • Improved accountability can help higher education institutions avoid legal, reputational, and financial risks.
  • Contract Logix’s contract management software can help improve accountability and maximize positive outcomes for your contract management activities.

What Kinds of Contracts Do Higher Education Institutions Use?

While other industries tend to use relatively few kinds of contracts, higher education institutions require a variety:

  • Student contracts: These include enrollment agreements, financial aid contracts, housing contracts, scholarship contracts (such as athletic or other departmental contracts), and other unique cases like study abroad contracts and internship agreements.
  • Employment contracts: Every higher education institution requires faculty and staff to operate, but there are even more types of employment contracts that are unique to higher education. These include adjunct contracts, student worker contracts, and specialized contracts for executives like a university president or other chief academic officer.
  • Facilities contracts: While online education has risen in recent years, even online-only institutions require facility contracts if they use any physical offices for staff and administration.
  • Licensing contracts: Does your institution have a contract with a textbook publisher? An online proctoring service? A learning management system like Canvas or Blackboard? If so, you need to manage these licensing contracts.

Higher education institutions may also need research or procurement contracts based on their unique activities. 

Housing contracts are one of the many types of contracts that higher education institutions must manage.
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Why is Accountability Important?

Contracts are important in nearly every industry, but the accountability they can provide makes them especially important for academic institutions. Contract management software is an important component of risk mitigation for higher education institutions because it can help hedge against several types of risk.

Legal Risk

Higher education institutions are subject to several specific regulations, such as the Higher Education Act (HEA), which institutes federal student aid programs, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), overseeing entities that use federal funds for research.

Reputational Risk

Beyond the tangible risks of contract mismanagement, organizations also run into the less tangible risk of reputation damage. While the reputational risk may have less impact on your bottom line in the short term, it’s much harder to repair a bad reputation than it is to fix a negative balance sheet in the long term.

Financial Risk

Losing contracts can be devastating for an institution’s finances. Contract management software mitigates the risk of financial loss from many different causes, such as decreased enrollment due to lapses in faculty contracts, fines arising from non-compliance, and expensive lawsuits for contractual obligation breaches.

How Contract Management Software Enhances Accountability in Higher Ed Institutions

Here are three ways contract management software fosters accountability in higher education institutions.

1. Increased Transparency

Contract management software’s biggest strength is that it makes invisible aspects of contract management visible. For example, contract management software can help higher education institutions by sending automated email reminders, providing tracking data on contract obligations, and keeping records of document versioning over time.

These tools leverage the power of technology to increase visibility and observability for higher education institutions, which in turn improves accountability by giving stakeholders a clear picture of the institution’s contracts.

2. Improved Compliance

Non-compliance can devastate the finances and reputation of an academic institution. Contract management software supports compliance in various ways: 

  • Centralized repository: Contract management software consolidates all your contract data in one repository. Without this software, the only way to survey your regulatory compliance is to look at each individual contract – a task that rapidly scales out of practicality as your organization grows.
  • Tracking and reporting: A key feature of contract management software is that it can automate many of the tracking and reporting activities higher education institutions use to stay compliant. Contract management software can generate reports and track key milestones, taking some of the headache and guesswork out of regulatory compliance.
  • Audit trail. Humans make mistakes, and while your organization should plan to minimize human error, you should have a plan for when mistakes do happen. An audit trail is a complete record of the history of a contract, including any changes to the contract. This helps improve compliance and foster accountability by providing a record of all changes, when they were made, and who made them.

3. Enhanced Communication

Without contract management software, sharing and collaboration is difficult. Paper contracts must be physically copied for multiple users to work with them simultaneously. Additionally, any changes in the drafting process can cause the contract to “splinter,” where different users have different versions of the same contract.

Contract management software enables collaboration so users can see up-to-date information about their contracts. This enhances accountability by allowing your team to work collaboratively under a shared understanding of your contracts.

Maximize Contract Outcomes for Higher Ed Institutions with Contract Logix

The outcome of your activities depends a great deal on the quality of your tools. While old methods of dealing with contracts might have sufficed, contract management software can enhance your institution’s accountability, mitigating your risks and maximizing positive outcomes.

Contract Logix, experts in contract management, can help your institution maintain accountability and success in 2023 and beyond. Contract Logix empowers you to track, monitor, share, and execute your contracts with improved efficiency and accountability.

To see how Contract Logix can help, request a demo today.

Looking for more articles about Contract Management? Check out our previous article “6 Trends Impacting Legal Operations“.


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