Information security strategy is EDUCAUSE‘s No. 1 IT issue for 2020, topping the list once again. The top 10 higher-ed IT issues were previewed at EDUCAUSE 2019 in Chicago.

The trends and issues are predicted to dominate higher-ed IT leaders’ priorities in 2020.

The 10 higher-ed IT issues all lead to digital transformation, and they fall under three general themes: simplifying higher ed, sustainability, and innovation.

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Led by Susan Grajek, vice president of communities and research for EDUCAUSE, panelists included Tariq Al-idrissi, associate vice president, IT at Trent University; Kellie Campbell, chief technology officer at Vermont Technical College; Sasi Pillay, vice president and CEO at Washington State University; and Opinder Bawa, CIO and vice president of information technology at the University of San Francisco.

“The challenges facing higher education are unprecedented in scope and complexity. We can no longer operate in growth mode,” Grajek said. “Institutions know they need to innovate to achieve a competitive advantage in today’s complex marketplace, and almost none of today’s innovation can happen without data and technology. The 2020 IT Issues reveal where the integrative CIO must simplify, sustain, and innovate as higher education drives to digital transformation.”

Grajek interviewed senior institutional leaders and CIOs across the country to develop “Higher Education’s Grand Challenges” which provide a useful backdrop for this year’s Top 10. According to her research, the key issues facing higher ed are:

  • Student success: Persistence, retention, and completion; engagement; and outcomes
  • Financial health: Enrollment, costs, funding, and natural disasters
  • Reputation and relevance: Affordability, political climate, teaching, academic programs, and research
  • External competition: Alternative credentials, employer-based learning, talent, and global higher education

The top 10 higher-ed IT issues, which will be released with more details in January 2020, are:

1. Information security strategy: Developing a risk-based security strategy that effectively detects, responds to, and prevents security threats and challenges (#1 in 2019)

2. Privacy: Safeguarding institutional constituents’ privacy rights and maintaining accountability for protecting all types of restricted data (#3 in 2019)

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 (#7 in 2019)

4. Digital integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, security, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms (#5 in 2019)

EDUCAUSE's just-released top 10 IT issues of 2020

5. Student retention and completion: Developing the capabilities and systems to incorporate artificial intelligence into student services to provide personalized, timely support

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

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

8. Higher education affordability: Aligning IT organizations‚ priorities, and resources with institutional priorities and resources to achieve a sustainable future (#10 in 2019)

9. Administrative simplification: Applying user-centered design, process improvement, and system reengineering to reduce redundant or unnecessary efforts and improve end-user experiences

10. The integrative CIO: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in supporting institutional missions (#9 in 2019)

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura


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