Common Technology and IT Challenges Faced by Higher Education Sector

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Common Technology and IT Challenges Faced by Higher Education Sector

September 15, 2021

As a result of the on ongoing pandemic the higher education sector has been forced into adopting new technologies at a record pace.  The industry is adapting technology solutions to transform learning, teaching and operating methodology that have been in use for several years but are becoming relevant now. Customized learning is increasingly shifting the focus on artificial intelligence, IoT and digital classrooms. Well, this is good news but comes with its own set of challenges for the education industry.

Colleges and universities across the United States are increasingly integrating technology into higher education, and IT admins must adopt a cautious approach to deal with technology challenges meticulously.

Let us delve into the most common IT challenges faced by institutions in the higher ed:

Data Security

Data security is an area of paramount importance and it demands triple investment of time, money, and resources. An institution that may have fallen prey to data breach in the past must ensure a robust data security framework. It is pertinent for such institutions to safeguard their network from further cyberattacks more so, if they’re in the process of implementing any network improvements. The bottom line is that even a trivial data breach can have far-reaching consequences. Research suggest that data breach can cost an institution as much as $200 per data record, eventually causing a massive financial burden on them. Data is digital gold and information such as social security numbers and bank accounts are vulnerable in digital space unless, well protected. Higher ed institutions should embrace a compelling security strategy, follow guidelines, and execute cybersecurity framework to uphold data integrity within the IT ecosystem.

Student Success Support

IT administrators must facilitate IT strategies that empower student and staff success. It is therefore pertinent for colleges and universities to set actionable goals and derive policies that endeavour in achieving them. If addressed, the higher eds can improve their overall student experience.

The action areas that need immediate attention include easy enrolments, setting educational targets, reduced service ticketing, speedy IT resolutions, implementation of new technologies, developing strong IT infrastructure and ecosystem.

Institutions today are focussed about initiating student success programs into their IT goals. Interestingly, institutions that have implemented this strategy have shown improved public profiles, student, and academic results.

Implementation is not a simple process and higher eds should remember this point. It’s important for IT administrators to realize that technology plays a key role in determining on-campus experience of students. The need to better this experience is good in the larger interest of the institution. Therefore, colleges and universities must embrace holistic solutions that are not only effective, and budget friendly but allow seamless integration into their IT milieu as well.

Data-Enabled Decisions

Institutions across the higher education sector are heavily dependent on data and information to take informed decisions. Trends suggest that higher eds are increasingly taking data-driven decisions. This had led them to create measurable goals and validate these goals though implemented tangible numbers. Institutions are now making the good use of available resources.

Various higher eds are tapping Business Intelligence (BI) tools for analytics and reporting. Since numbers don’t lie, these colleges and universities have shown a clear tendency to take data -driven decisions based purely on analytics. However, the challenge is that not every staffer is equipped to handle data-driven decisions. Therefore, it’s important for the institutions to train their IT staff on BI tools for putting insights to practical use.

Digital Integration

Smooth integration, interoperability, and coordination across learning and teaching applications are factors that determine the efficacy of IT teams.

The unprecedented and sudden switch to digital platforms by colleges and universities has burdened their IT infrastructure and ecosystem. This has of course, thrown multiple challenges at the institutions with the need to implement new products and services across various departments. Products and services now don’t belong to the IT departments alone and there is a dire need for coordination across various departments to mitigate redundancies and incompetence.  

IT administrators and managers have the task of strategizing, identifying bottlenecks, implementing policies, and overseeing hardware & software integrations across IT systems within the campuses. It’s time for universities and colleges to leverage technology and strengthen their IT architecture to remain focussed and competitive in the ever-evolving era of digital revolution.  

Data Governance

Data is digital gold. More the data, more is the need to have stringent security protocols and policies in place. The higher eds must secure their data against all vulnerabilities and possible data threats.

Data governance is the need of the hour and it extends into the domains of

  • Data Storage
  • Data Security
  • Data Management
  • Data Implementation

Data governance is a pain area for all the higher eds and it’s a formidable challenge to deal with. First step towards dealing with this issue is the appointment of dedicated staff for data management and data segregation. BI tools can come handy to help soothe this crisis. However, it is an arduous and lengthy process and should be followed meticulously, efficiently, and diligently.

Embracing the Change

Change is the only permanent law and so it applies to the higher ed sector as well. Embracing change is not as easy as it seems. Enterprise-wide adoption is the need of the hour for colleges and universities, and this demands support from all stakeholders.

Developing policies, implementing analytics, standardization, and training are some of the areas that can contribute immensely towards a changed ecosystem within the campuses. Change is a long-term process and is very demanding however, the digital transformation that it leads to makes it worth the investment.

Change driven initiatives encompass policies, strategies, programs, infrastructure, and staff to help address these challenges. Emerging technologies have a key role to play in shaping the future course of action for the higher education sector.

Global pandemic has created unforeseen situations for the higher education sector. Research predicts a considerable decline in enrollments in the year 2021 as it did in 2020. However, answer to such crisis is technology adoption and a massive digital transformation. Higher eds that invest in technology-led change will be better equipped to handle emergencies than the ones who’ll ignore the lurking danger.

IT Staffing

Colleges and universities today have embraced technology thanks to the steady shift towards a digital ecosystem. The global pandemic has made the higher eds realize the importance of having a strong digital strategy and environment. The increase in demand to implement IT strategies and technologies across the campuses has led to an inevitable demand for IT staffers. There is an unprecedented high demand for staff to meet the ever-increasing IT challenges.

It is only fair to suggest, as per reports, that demand for IT staffers has contributed towards increased costs in tuition fees. There has been almost 160% rise in tuition fees for an average four-year university course since 1990. To keep their IT costs under check, higher eds should align their goals to technologies and avoid overheads.

Colleges and universities should boost their IT recruitment processes, cross-train their staff, and strengthen their existing workforce to meet the IT challenges.

Address the Challenges Now!
The need for higher ed institutions is to address the challenges right in the beginning and adopting technology is the safest way to keep danger at bay. Besides internal strategies, tech vendors can offer compelling tech solutions to bolster IT infrastructure. Unifyed is one of the most affordable vendors in this space. It has a diverse solutions portfolio for:

  • Admissions & Enrollment
  • Student Services & Campus Life
  • Registrars & Student Financial Services
  • Advancement
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology

Unifyed solutions address the needs of the higher eds ranging from data & cybersecurity to SIS, admissions, recruitment, retention, mobile app, campus portals and AI-powered chatbots among others. These solutions have helped many institutions overcome their fears and consolidate their digital ecosystem against unpredictable tech challenges.