The Top 10 IT Issues in higher education are released every year. You can read through them chronologically and review the presentation on the Educause website, but what we found most interesting are the themes within this year’s issues.
Three themes stand out for 2020: sustain, simplify, and innovate. We won’t deep dive into each one, but there are some tools you can use to get started in each theme immediately.
Some issues have rolled over from previous years, and many schools are actively working in these areas. Still, there is work to be done to sustain security, privacy, funding and affordability.
Here are the Educause 2020 Issues that fall under the “Sustain” category.
Issue #1 – Information Security Strategy
Developing a risk-based security strategy that effectively detects, responds to, and prevents security threats and challenges.
Issue #2 – Privacy
Safeguarding institutional constituents’ privacy rights and maintaining accountability for protecting all types of restricted data.
Issue #3 – Sustainable Funding
Developing funding models that can maintain quality and accommodate both new needs and the growing use of IT services in an era of increasing budget constraints.
Issue #8 – Higher Education Affordability
Aligning IT organizations‚ priorities, and resources with institutional priorities and resources to achieve a sustainable future.
In short, a key part of sustainable funding will be about doing more with less. Many schools are facing budget constraints, but IT departments are expected to maintain and grow services with less funding.
To do more with less, you have to be meticulous about where the budget is going, and focus spending on resources that actually get used. This is where data comes in. LabStats computer lab monitoring software can reveal when, where and how long computers and software on campus are used, so you can expand resources where students need them most, and reduce unused and outdated resources that are tying up your budget.
Another theme of this year’s IT issues is simplification. As colleges and universities have grown, processes have become more complex and departments have become siloed.
Issue #4 – Digital Integrations
Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, security, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms.
Issue #9 – Administrative Simplification
Applying user-centered design, process improvement, and system reengineering to reduce redundant or unnecessary efforts and improve end-user experiences.
According to the Educause presentation by Susan Grajek, the hope is that in 3-5 years institutional services will be as easy to use as consumer apps. That’s a big goal, but there are already apps available that help students get to the resources they need on campus.
LabFind is a mobile app that empowers students to find available computers, software and study space, live in real-time. LabFind also helps to break down silos on campus, so that students can find a computer anywhere on campus, not just in their own department.
Administrative simplification not only reduces unnecessary efforts, but can lead to big savings. President Turpin recently shared about his plan to streamline administrative processes at the University of Alberta, Canada to ease budget concerns.
There are always opportunities to innovate, but Educause has highlighted three areas with the most pressing needs.
Issue #5 – Student Retention and Completion
Developing the capabilities and systems to incorporate artificial intelligence into student services to provide personalized, timely support.
Issue #6 – Student-Centric Higher Education
Creating a student-services ecosystem to support the entire student life cycle, from prospecting to enrollment, learning, job placement, alumni engagement, and continuing education.
Issue #7 – Improved Enrollment
Using technology, data, and analytics to develop an inclusive and financially sustainable enrollment strategy to serve more and new learners by personalizing recruitment, enrollment, and learning experiences.
A student-centric higher education experience should include tools that help students get to the resources they need on campus. LabFind works to increase the discoverability of tech on campus so students can spend less time looking for a computer, and more time on their assignments.
The CIO’s Role
The final issue raised by Educause is in regards to the CIO.
Issue #10- The Integrative CIO
Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in supporting institutional missions.
IT plays a key role in supporting the institutional mission and bringing siloed departments together to simplify, sustain and innovate for the future.
More details are expected to follow this list of IT issues, but you can take action now to position your college or university to tackle them right away.