Stacked Bar Chart Showing Relative US Expenditures in Higher Education

Sometimes It Takes Just One Chart to Bring Home Your Point

After spending 19 years studying and teaching at a few large universities, I was very interested in Bain and Company's recent study entitled, "The Financially Sustainable University."  The study has a few excellent charts, but this chart stands out:

Chart Showing Relative US Expenditures in Higher Education

Chart Showing Relative Expenditures US in Higher Education (1995-2010)

This chart brings home a key point.  Both public and private research universities spend a larger percentage of their expenses on administrative and support work now than they did fifteen years ago.  The Bain authors go on to state that universities are very different than industry where the experience curve leads to a reduction in costs over time.  Whether you agree or disagree with their conclusions, the simple 100% stacked bar chart strongly supports their argument.

Consultants often look for the key chart to drive home their point.  It shows the client that they have developed fresh insights and can communicate these insights to senior management in a simple, straightforward manner.  As you put your next presentation together, think about your key message and put the neccesary effort into coming up with a chart that delivers it.