What is on Your List of Things That Keep Education Leaders Awake at Night?

May 14, 2019 – By Tom Davisson, Partner Edu Alliance Group – They say misery loves company. If that’s true, today’s higher education Presidents, and leadership teams, should have lots of friends.

I served as a senior university administrator for over 30 years and can safely say higher education is in the middle of very interesting times. I suspect there are many reasons including in no particular order:

  • Reduced state and federal support
  • Fewer High School graduates
  • More interest in industry for skills training
  • Pressure to increase student retention and graduation rates
  • Marketing my institution
  • Reduced revenues and increasing expenses including cost reduction of staff, and faculty
  • Increased scrutiny by accreditors and DOE concerning financials (Financial Composite Score)
  • Attracting & keeping talented faculty and staff
  • Possible closure or merger over the next decade.

I would like your input as a person who is working for a college or university.  I along with Dean Hoke will be speaking at the American Association of University Administrators leadership conference on June 6th in Detroit. The topic is “What Keeps College Administrators Awake at Night, and How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep“. As we prepare our presentation, we would like your personal input.  We are very curious about what is keeping you up at night. Is it one or more of the items above, possibly all or is it something else?

We will compile and share (anonymously of course) what you and your colleagues tell us.  Furthermore we would like to hear from our international colleagues as well as US higher education leaders. You can write to tom.davisson@edu-alliance.net or dean.hoke@edu-alliance.net  or you can comment publicly to this article.  We have written privately to a number of US college and university Presidents and getting tremendous input.

Maybe knowing that you are not alone in your concerns will in itself help you sleep better. We hope to hear from you. What you do is important.  We will also be writing a follow up article after the AAUA event.

davisson tom-1Tom Davisson recently retired after 20 years from The Sullivan University System where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. His responsibilities included: Head of Operations, oversight of campuses, new product/program development, and institutional accreditation.

Mr. Davisson is one of the leading experts in the area of higher education institutions bridging the gap between education and the workforce. He has written White Papers for Governor’s in two states, worked for a third Governor’s Taskforce for Workforce Development, and also testified before Congress. In addition he has served on and chaired numerous US and international institutional visits on behalf of SACSCOC. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees, and Executive Committee of The University of Rio Grande in Ohio.


Al Jazeera Investigation of Fake Degrees


By Dean Hoke, Managing Partner Edu Alliance Group – The Al Jazeera television network has recently aired on its investigative series 101 East a 25 minute program called “Pakistan’s Fake Degrees”. The program investigates how Pakistan’s degree mill profits from selling fake qualifications to people around the world. I encourage you to watch the program.

Bogus degrees from “Online Universities” are still a problem worldwide. I have worked in higher education for over 40 years and in online education for the past 20 years.  I currently serve as a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and am Chair of the Global Partnerships Committee. I am a strong believer in online education. A majority of higher education institutions in North America and Europe offer quality degree programs that are accredited by their respective countries.  However, there are fraudulent groups that offer fake online degrees from universities that do not exist.

According to Al Jazeera and many others, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world purchase bogus degrees. Many use these fake qualifications to get job promotions and more distributing some get jobs as doctors, nurses, teachers, government officials, and engineers.   Unfortunately, we see a great deal of these fake degrees being used to get jobs in the Middle East and Asia.

Our firm Edu Alliance works in the field of educational consulting throughout the Middle East, India and the United States. We have assisted higher education institutions on a variety of projects and our mission is to assist universities, colleges and educational institutions to develop capacity and enhance their effectiveness. Every member of our team has worked in higher education and are passionate about making sure students get a quality education.  We have also help expose bogus institutions who sell fake degrees.

We assisted publications like Al Fanar Media, The National, and 999 who wrote a series of articles helping to expose these groups and their practices. We also continued to write blogs, articles, editorials and do interviews about fake universities. Our combined efforts and an expose by The New York Times in 2015 brought world-wide attention on the Pakistan-based Axact, which led to the shutdown of over 200 bogus university websites and the arrest of the CEO.

Edu Alliance is proud of its efforts to make the public aware of “universities” offering bogus degrees.  Edu Alliance believes bogus institutions, like the ones stated in the Al Jazeera program, are very damaging to legitimate higher education institutions, government, private business, and to students.  In order to eliminate these predatory groups, all governments and educational accreditation agencies must be proactive in shutting these groups down.  It is also corporation’s responsibility to make sure their current and future employee’s credentials are from accredited institutions. Social media must also take responsibility and not sell advertising to a school unless they can certify the school is offering a legitimate accredited program.

As I wrote 4 years ago:  It is time for GCC education agencies to encourage local universities to offer online degrees for non-traditional students.  The focus should be for adults completing their bachelors degrees, or at the Masters level.  It has been done successfully at North American and European colleges and universities. The online programs must meet the same standards as any classroom program.  By having local accredited universities expanding their offerings via online they will find an untapped student market and discourage bogus schools. 





Edu Alliance is a boutique management consulting company founded in 2014 with offices in Bloomington, Indiana and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The company provides the experience and expertise colleges and universities need to expand and optimize their engagement with students and its stakeholders around the world. We help universities think strategically and creatively about their unique opportunities and challenges.

Edu Alliance provides a diverse group of distinguished higher education professionals to research, plan, and execute programs. The partners and advisory members are available for consulting projects worldwide. Consultancy work includes:

  • Online degree program feasibility and marketing studies
  • Institutional International strategy
  • Executive and Key Faculty Search
  • Market Research, enrollment evaluation planning, marketing research, and branding
  • Educational Technology strategies and implementation