Tuesday, June 02, 2009

How would one best manage a university portfolio?

It would be complicated. The biggest asset for most places is tuition paying students. For selective universities (those with excess demand), undergraduates are more or less a long asset: one can expect a steady cash flow stream that is hedged against inflation. Masters student demand seems more volatile, and therefore shorter in duration. Ph.D. students lose money for universities in the short run, but might make money (via their ability to enhance a university's reputation) in the long run.

As for liabilities, it is again a mixture. Tenured faculty (and to some extent, unionized staff)are long liabilities; adjuncts have much shorter duration. Into this mix are financial assets and liabilities. It seems to me that the best portfolio strategy would use financial assets and liabilities to hedge the business of the university. I would be curious as to whether those in charge of managing university portfolios do this.

1 comment:

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