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Research Universities

Research universities and colleges not only teach, but they drive innovations and breakthroughs. Solving for some of society's biggest challenges doesn’t come without risk. Marsh's Education Practice brings creative risk management solutions to research universities and colleges like yours.

Academic research is a specialized form of risk taking, from asking questions few, if any, thought to ask, to applying new techniques to test hypotheses. Accompanying these risks for research universities are many other threats. These include liability for on-campus activities, volatile substances, and cyber disruptions, as well as physical damage to research facilities, loss of intellectual property, and harm to students and staff abroad.

Carefully managing risk is essential for research universities to continue to pursue answers to questions and create innovative solutions and concepts in the sciences and humanities.

Our team of education risk specialists understands the mission of research institutions like yours, and we can provide effective risk management programs to secure your future.


Risks for public and private research universities and colleges are complex, because they are both teaching institutions as well as laboratories of innovation. Some of the main risks that research universities face are:

Property risks: Facilities and equipment can be damaged by external risks, such as natural disasters and severe weather, and internal ones, such as accidents. Facility shutdowns due to property losses can endanger progress in research projects and put future funding at risk.

Liability risks: Students, staff, researchers, visitors, and neighboring property owners can incur injuries, illnesses, or damage that exposes research universities to lawsuits.

Cyber risks: Research institutions rely on technology systems and data gathering, which make cyber events such as malicious attacks serious risks. In addition, institutions have a significant exposure to data breaches involving sensitive information of students, staff, and donors.

Intellectual property risks: Research universities frequently deal in intellectual property, clinical trials, and technology development. Ownership and transfer of rights to these assets carries risks for the institution.

Because research universities are where minds come together to solve problems, numerous risks involving people — remotely or in person — can arise. These include:

  • Liability for employment practices, harassment, discrimination, and tenure issues.
  • Liability for campus violence, acts of hazing, and other acts.
  • Illnesses and injuries to staff, resulting in workers' compensation claims.
  • Cyber and technology risks, disrupting network access and loss of data.

Marsh's risk specialists have experience in managing these and other risks, to keep individuals on your campus safe, productive, and engaged in learning.

Educational institutions of all kinds, and particularly research universities, can thrive when they have access to students, staff, and academic resources. Global risks — from natural hazards arising from climate change, to geopolitical and regulatory factors, to pandemics — can interrupt an institution's operations in multiple ways.

Physical threats, cyberattacks, volatility in international relations that make it harder to attract foreign students and faculty, and supply chain risks are just a few of the ways global risks can negatively impact research and academic operations.

Our team of risk specialists has extensive experience and advanced solutions to help institutions like yours manage risks and improve resilience, so you can focus on making the world a better place.

Our people

Jean Demchak

Global Education Industry Practice Leader