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Academic Continuity Plan: What Is It and Why Do You Need One?

June 22, 2021

Why You Need an Academic Continuity Plan

If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it’s that colleges and universities need to be prepared for any possible emergency scenario that might come their way.

An academic continuity plan is one of the most constructive ways to do just that, offering a straightforward strategy for responding to and recovering from a disruption to everyday operations.

But if you’re new to academic continuity planning in higher education, you may wonder where to begin and why it’s so crucial to your institution. What exactly is a continuity plan, and what are the benefits?

What Is an Academic Continuity Plan?

An academic continuity plan—also known as a university business continuity plan—helps colleges and universities mitigate risk and reduce damages when an unforeseen interruption occurs. Whether faced with a fire, flood, or cyberattack, a continuity plan will ensure that the institution is back up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible. 

Having a business continuity plan for colleges and universities will not completely stop disasters from happening, but it will minimize the financial losses and increase the speed of recovery from those disasters. 

Benefits of Academic Continuity Plans

There are countless reasons your institution needs academic continuity plans. Though the creation process takes some of your time and resources, the payoff is exponential.

Here are just a few benefits of having academic continuity plans for your college or university.

1. Minimize Losses

Ultimately, a continuity plan is designed to minimize losses when an adverse event occurs. Institutions that have a plan of action will be able to get back up and running sooner than those who do not, saving valuable time, money, and other resources.

2. Develop a Greater Understanding of the Institution

A secondary benefit of developing an academic continuity plan is that the process will help you better understand your institution. You’ll identify ways you might improve processes across the board and mitigate risk—before you have to experience an emergency situation. 

3. Gain Greater Peace of Mind

Your students and faculty members want to know they’re part of an institution that protects them, no matter what happens. You’ll be able to offer greater peace of mind when your community knows you have their best interests in mind.

4. Adhere to Compliance Standards

Compliance standards might offer all the motivation your institution needs to create solid continuity plans. Whether you’re seeking compliance at the federal, state, or local level, having academic continuity plans will help you get there.

5. Improve Your Reputation and Branding

The higher education realm is more competitive than ever, meaning you must do more to set your institution apart. Fortunately, academic continuity plans can give you that advantage and give your brand greater prestige in the higher education community.

What Is Included in an Academic Continuity Plan?

An academic continuity plan should be tailored to the unique needs of the college or university. However, there are certain elements that every plan should include, such as a list of vulnerabilities, dependencies, and plans for how to proceed in the face of any type of disaster.

Key elements of every academic continuity plan include:

  • A list of resources students and faculty can use in the event of a disruption
  • Goals and definitions to help measure the success of the plan
  • Possible disaster scenarios and responses

How to Implement Your Own Academic Continuity Plans

So how do you implement your own academic continuity plans?

Keep in mind that continuity planning is an ongoing process—not something you’ll create and set aside until an emergency pops up. Instead, continuity planning requires continual maintenance and evaluation.

Here are the steps to get you started:

  1. Analyze critical functions of your institution.
  2. Develop a recovery strategy for every possible emergency scenario (including how to restore critical functions).
  3. Build your detailed continuity plan and share it with all departments.
  4. Maintain the continuity plan through tabletop exercises and regular adjustments.

Build Your Academic Continuity Plan with Kuali Ready

Don’t wait for a disaster to hit—now is the time to create your academic continuity plans. Not sure how to get started? Kuali Ready will walk you through every step of the process with our easy-to-use continuity planning software.

Designed specifically for higher education, Kuali Ready will cover all of your unique concerns and pain points. We simplify the planning process by focusing on the recovery of four key elements: 

  • Essential employees
  • Work location
  • Critical applications 
  • Unique resources

No matter what disaster comes your way, you’ll have a thorough, effective continuity plan to help you bounce back. Schedule a free Kuali Ready demo today and move forward as a more resilient, agile institution.

Additional Resources

Continuity Program Methodology for Higher Ed button
Higher Ed Continuity Planning Software Buying Guide button
Business Continuity Planning Basics for Higher Ed button
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