Good Case Study On Movie Analysis On Ivory Tower

Type of paper: Case Study

Topic: Students, Education, College, Finance, Organization, Cinema, Movies, Strategy

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/09


Ivory Tower is a movie that tries to look into the faults of the American higher education system especially when it comes to student finances and the control of organizational finances. The movie highlights of the conditions that current colleges are in; being unable to sustain their expenditure and the demands of the students. From the movie, the role and purpose of college is first of all highlighted. A large section of the society still harbors the belief that attending college predisposes young people to a better life and the chance to have a good future. The circumstances surrounding higher education are however shown to be changing whereby the costs attached to it especially the running costs by the management of the colleges are becoming unmanageable. The burden of the high costs has been extended to the students who cover it by getting loans from the government. In comparison to other services or goods in the market in America, the costs attached to higher education have exponentially increased. Compounded by the fact that most of the university graduates are underemployed or unemployed, students loans continue accumulating and are increasingly not paid. This scenario results in a high level of debt as most students struggle to pay for the loans that they incurred while in college. The movie tries to look into this situation on how the funds given to students are used and how the management of the colleges uses the college money.
Through Ivory Tower, the whole scenario of the American higher education system is highlighted. The movie moves from different contexts in different colleges exploring the factors associated with the money issue. Statistics are also provided on the current conditions and implications of higher education such as the number of graduates who finally graduate. The movie also examines the avenues and the nature of payment of loans that graduates indulge in. It is clearly observed that paying the loans is difficult for most of the graduates due to the situations that the graduates find themselves in after college. One issue looked into is the effect that Harvard has had on the functioning of colleges through the country. Most of the colleges in the higher educational system strive to copy the way of Harvard and try to emulate its policies. The movie also looks at the luxurious life that most of the students in the colleges lead. Some of the universities such as Arizona State provide facilities whose justifications for or whose need cannot be established.
The focus of this paper, however, is the situation portrayed at Cooper Union, which is a school of design in New York City. The current problems that are facing the institution are highlighted in the movie. Here, the initial premise on which the college was founded on was the provision of full scholarships to the students who get enrolled into that school.
Through the discussions in the movie, it is established that the problems with the college originated from the institution deciding to construct a building worth 175 million dollars. Due to the financial situation that the college ultimately found itself in, the administration decided to introduce tuition fees. The strategy issue, in this case, is coming up with policies that will help the college in formulating strategies that help to deal with the financial situation in the institution.

Strategic Analysis

The strategic analysis that Cooper Union can used can be based on the general environment analysis. Through this model, certain features famously known as the PESTEL are looked into. The first aspect touches on the political sphere. The political scene in the college is characterized by the nature of support that the federal government gives to the institution. The institution receives annual subsidies that total to about 20 million annually. In plotting the strategic tools to rectify the financial situation therefore, consideration should be made to ensure that governmental support continues to come its way.
The factor of the economic conditions that the college finds itself in is also important in coming up with the strategic solution for the current challenges. The college currently faces difficult fiscal periods due to various policies that have made it spend irrationally. The strategic solution will therefore look into correcting the economic faults that predispose the college to difficult financial situations. Another aspect in the PESTEL approach is that which deals with social issues. Cooper Union has been used to offering free tuition for the students. This is the tradition that has for long been associated with the college and a change in the tradition is likely to have negative impacts to support from other stakeholders. In strategizing therefore, efforts will be made to continue with the known tradition in order to enlist the support of various players who believe in that tradition.
Another issue to be considered is the technological aspect. To this end, as shown in the movie, most colleges and universities have been caught up in trying to come up with big buildings that attract donors. Cooper Union in coming up with the strategy will require rationality in balancing the technological requirement in the modern day and the manageability of such a venture. This will help in getting a balance that will be essential in helping the college deal with the financial crisis. Through adoption of the general environment analysis therefore, Cooper Union will be able to come up with strategic actions that will start the journey towards the correction of the financial crisis.


The first recommendation to Coopers Union is indulgence in activities that are both rational and manageable. Here, the management of the college should strike a balance between the needs of formulating policies that attract donors to the institution and the manageable financially demanding executions. From the movie, one of the problems that landed the institution in the current financial situation is the building of the 175 million dollar structure. The institution actually had to get loans in order to fully cover the costs of the construction of the large building. The college had been caught up in the wave that was riding among higher education institution in the country, and this was putting up flashy and big buildings. The buildings were meant to attract donors who were to finance the other running and operational costs of the college.
The problem with this kind of approach is the fact that there is no assurance that a donor is actually able to show up. The management therefore in indulging in such a costly venture runs the risk of constructing the building that fails to arrive at the goals of the building. This is the fault that Cooper Union incurred since the costs used in the construction of the building were not justified due to the lack of the expected donors. The recommendation, in this case, is that the management in every other future financial engagement takes into consideration the dangers attached to it.
Another recommendation to the college in order to deal with its financial problems would be looking and reviewing it policies when it comes to the offering of the free tuition and its leadership especially the presidency. The management, in this case, should come up with real and innovative strategies that help in realizing its ideology of providing free tuition for the students. Over the years, the college in collaboration with the state has been active in providing a realistic and workable program that helps in achieving the free tuition. The college, therefore, should be active in coming up with a variety of avenues through which the reality of providing free tuition to the students can be realized. Currently, the college survives through a public subsidy that amounts to more than 20 million dollars. This is clearly not enough, and the college must source for money elsewhere.
According to the movie, the amount of benefits that the President of the College gets is relatively high compared to other leaders in other colleges. The total amount of the President’s annual benefits has the ability to pay the tuition fee for more than ten students. This is, therefore, one of the policies in the college’s management that need to be reviewed since in the current form; it does not paint a good picture for the college. Without the reviewing of its fiscal policies and spending, it is likely that the government will pull out its support. This is because, without the governmental support, the college as an entity cannot justify its position as a business organization thus prompting the introduction of the tuition fee.
The third recommendation to Cooper Union would be to look at the maintenance of its status as a private entity or institution and its tradition. As a private institution that relies on public funds in the form of the governmental subsidies, the college should make a deliberate attempt to strengthen this position. This can be achieved by putting in place strategies that help the students accomplish their educational goals without incurring extra costs. The management should, therefore, strive to help the students make use of the opportunities given to them by the public through the governmental support.
The tradition of any institution is always held dear and is seen to embody the spirit behind the operations of the college. The college should, therefore, look into ways of ensuring that the tradition survives since through that, it will get the support of different stakeholders. By upholding its traditions of providing free tuition, the college will continue to get the support of players such as the alumni and other donors who are captured by the operating mode of the college. The change of focus from the model that people have been used to is likely to lead to the withdrawal of support from essential partners who would have helped the college overcome its financial problems.


The first recommendation entails looking into the rationality of the financially demanding ventures of the college. These recommendations targets at helping the college strike a balance between the needs when indulging in such ventures and their manageability. This recommendation will be helpful in preventing the college from unreasonable expenditure. Through the second recommendation that entails the reviewing of certain policies in the organization, the college would be helped in restructuring their actions. Here, issues such as the expenditure on the president salary and benefits are looked into and rectified appropriately.
Lastly the third recommendation advises the college to uphold its traditions. This will be key in ensuring support from important players and stakeholders that crucial in stabilizing the financial situation in the college. Generally, the strategic analysis on Cooper Union looks into the actions that have led to the precarious financial situation, and that can be dealt with by using the recommendations given.

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