Student Computer Ownership 2003-2005

Studies explore the impact of the rise of wireless technologies in schools, and benchmarks give a practical guide on how much to spend on IT.

Colleges and universities continue to address rising student and faculty expectations for wireless access and services, fostered in part by the recent dramatic growth of consumer broadband services and inexpensive wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) components. Almost 77.2 percent of the campuses participating in a survey from the Campus Computing Project report wireless LANs in 2003, up from 67.9 percent in 2002.

Wireless Spurs Notebook Sales

According to Student Monitor LLC, colleges and universities that invest in technology resources reap the dividends when it comes to student perception of whether their school provides a “fair value” relative to tuition costs. About two-thirds of students ranked their schools as providing a “fair value” and listed library services, Internet access and computing resources as the top three services that are most important in determining whether their institution delivers.

The Ridgewood, N.J., pollster also noted that more and more students are shifting to notebook computers as the prices have decreased and more institutions provide wireless access on campus. Last year, more than one-third of schools provided wireless access, up from just 6.2 percent four years ago.

COMPUTER OWNERSHIP

2003
COMPUTER OWNERS 87%
DESKTOP OWNERS 74%
NOTEBOOK OWNERS 36%

2004
COMPUTER OWNERS 87%
DESKTOP OWNERS 76%
NOTEBOOK OWNERS 39%

2005
COMPUTER OWNERS 89%
DESKTOP OWNERS 69%
NOTEBOOK OWNERS 53%

*Source: Student Monitor, Spring 2005

How Much IT Is Enough?

The question of how much an institution should invest in information technology has been on the minds of senior administrators for more than 20 years. The most common answer has been: “It depends.” But on what? Institutional mission and competitive position are two variables cited in the literature.

Indeed, there are institutions that have sought to distinguish themselves in their use of IT through major investments in infrastructure or applications consistent with their academic programs. However, the amount an institution should invest should not be driven by the technology itself. Some institutions have gained temporary notoriety through the adoption of a new technology. Institutional funding strategies that depend on the particular technologies of the moment will be hard to sustain. In the end, long-term success will hinge on imaginative use of technology, not technology itself.

BENCHMARK 1

BUDGET IMPACT = Total Institutional Budget for IT ÷ Total Institutional Budget Net of Financial Aid x 100%

For college presidents and senior IT administrators, Benchmark 1 provides a starting place for understanding their own allocations. If the calculation of Budget Impact is outside the typical range, then this might signal that further analysis of institutional strategies is in order.

BENCHMARK 2

BUDGET SUPPORT LEVEL = Total Institutional Budget for IT ÷ Total Headcount Employees + Students x 100%

To provide a second perspective on the total IT funding level, it is useful to look at the per capita budgets for IT–that is, the Budget Support Level. This is the measure of the total IT dollars budgeted per member of the campus population.

Source: “Information Technology Benchmarks: A Practical Guide for College and University Presidents” at www.cic.edu

Oct 31 2006

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