A simulation model for resource optimization in higher education institutions
The persistent decline in public funding in Uganda’s higher education institutions coupled with surging numbers of students has created a mismatch between students’ number and resources. This mismatch has lowered the quality of education provided, culminating into meager economic, social and political impact/returns. The aim of this study was to develop a simulation model for visualizing the trend of the cost of delivery, student unit cost and quality of education thereby providing stakeholders with information necessary for the decisionmaking process on student enrollment. In seeking to understand the resource optimization problem, purposive stratified sampling was used to identify four Universities, policy makers from National Council for Higher Education and Ministry of Education in Uganda as problem domain stakeholders. Cross sectional data was collected by administering a pre-tested questionnaire and a mathematical model was formulated. The simulation model was then developed to compute the cost of delivery, student unit cost and visualized the trend of the cost of delivery, student unit cost and quality of education/teaching. The results from the simulation model showed that in the short run an increase in student enrollment and resources leads to a sharp increase in quality of teaching/education. However, at a further increase in student enrollment, the gains in quality get lower due to less available resources. Later on the quality reduces because of ineffective low resources. In conclusion to achieve quality education in HEIs there is need to simultaneously optimize number of students, funding and utilized resources. The study recommended that policy makers need to analyze longer term rather than short term effect of increased population. Similarly, keeping a population fixed does not lead to fixed quality. More resources have to be mobilized to keep quality up. Equally important, institutions should provide resources and services such as academic staff, support staff, scholastic materials, student advice, staff development activities and student assessment at matching levels with student enrollment.