[Editor’s note: This post originally published on Optimal-Partners. For the full blog, click here.]
Most Higher Ed IT departments face similar challenges with budget restraints, hiring and retaining talented staff, and balancing the maintenance of existing systems with the need to implement emerging technologies. As if that weren’t enough, IT departments at state universities also run into a variety of specific problems that can further complicate how they operate. From a decline in state funding, to the needs of an evolving student base, there’s a lot that state university IT departments need to keep in mind, but there are ways to make edtech challenges easier. Let us walk you through some of those challenges so that your state university IT department can compete against Higher Ed’s most pressing issues on more equal footing.
1. The Complications of State Funding
While IT funding is an important issue at most Higher Ed institutions, cuts to state funding for higher education has caused additional problems for state universities. In 2013, 21 percent of public college and university budgets came from state funding, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. By 2014, combined state and local appropriations for higher education increased by 3% (adjusted for inflation) from a decade prior, but represented a 9% (adjusted for inflation) decline from 2007, according to a report from College Board. With this decrease in state funding, some state universities are relying on other forms of income to supplement their budgets. This only adds to the already difficult task of dealing with IT budget cuts that many universities are facing.
Solution: Although IT budgets have been a consistent issue, there are a few things that state school IT departments can do to lessen their funding woes. Educause’s Top 10 IT Issues for 2016 report suggests that the costs of continued maintenance should be factored into IT project funding models from the get-go. Adopting effective IT service management methods can help cut these costs and make more room in your budget. Ensure your department has the proper accounting systems and infrastructure to produce reports that outline your funding model and any financial outlook in ample detail. Conveying the importance of IT to institutional leaders is also key to securing more flexible budgets. Avoid overwhelming them with metrics and figures. Instead, communicate the value of IT as an essential part of the university’s ecosystem that is worth investing in.
(Next page: Edtech challenges for state universities 2-3)