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Top 10 IT issues in higher education

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Recruiting qualified IT staff, increasing the use of technology to support learning outcomes and creating sustainable IT funding channels are the top IT priorities for colleges and universities this year, according to a report released recently by Educause. These priorities underscore the theme of accelerated change taking place throughout higher education, says Susan Grajek, vice president of data, research, and analytics at Educause.

“The pace of change for higher education information technology is increasing — not slowing — and on many fronts,” states Grajek, in a statement. She notes — and expresses concern for — a growing gap between innovative early adopters and institutions struggling to keep up. “More and more institutions are falling behind when it comes to implementing and leveraging technology to solve large-scale problems and address strategic issues, like using cloud technologies to standardize business processes on campus and analytics to predict and address student outcomes.”

Educause’s annual list, developed by a panel of IT and non-IT leaders then voted on by Educause members, aims to highlight the most pressing IT issues affecting today’s campuses. Here’s what they’ve identified for 2015:

  1. Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge and skills of existing technology staff;
  2. Optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use;
  3. Developing IT funding models that sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth;
  4. Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that strategically leverages technology;
  5. Demonstrating the business value of information technology and how technology and the IT organization can help the institution achieve its goals;
  6. Increasing the IT organization’s capacity for managing change, despite differing community needs, priorities, and abilities;
  7. Providing user support in the new normal—mobile, online education, cloud, and BYOD environments;
  8. Developing mobile, cloud, and digital security policies that work for most of the institutional community;
  9. Developing an enterprise IT architecture that can respond to changing conditions and new opportunities; and,
  10. Balancing agility, openness, and security.

According to Grajek, these IT priorities reflect colleges and universities’ goal to centralize and standardize operations without compromising innovation or academic autonomy.

“Today, it’s not just about addressing issues in the present,” said Grajek, “but also for the future – and ensuring actions and solutions are integrated and aligned with larger institutional strategy.”

The full 2015 report is available to view at Educause’s website.