Mar 23 2022

What Is Higher Education’s Value Proposition?

Developing a post-pandemic value proposition means considering technology’s impact on the future of higher education.

Higher education institutions are in the midst of a challenging era. As many colleges and universities face lower enrollment numbers, administrators are looking for new ways to recruit and retain students. Combined with the other effects of the pandemic, these challenges have forced colleges and universities to quickly adapt and continually shift gears for more than two years.

This flexibility has forced higher education leaders to learn even more about the value of technology and how vital it is to powering learning. In the early days of the pandemic, universities quickly turned to technology to solve their immediate problems. Today, they must think about how these investments and solutions will affect their institutions over the long term.

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Defining the Higher Ed Value Proposition

For EDUCAUSE’s 2022 Top 10 IT Issues list, CIOs and other university technology leaders noted that developing a technology-enhanced post-pandemic value proposition is one of their top challenges for the year. Leaders are having to look beyond the triage period of the pandemic to the university’s long-term goals, which means defining their greater visions.

Digital transformation was already on the minds of leaders at many institutions, but the pandemic accelerated the need for robust systems and operational efficiency. It also magnified the digital divide that exists within higher education and required institutions to quickly bridge that gap to provide equitable access to technology and learning for underserved students.

Now more than ever, higher education leaders recognize the value of technology and must reassess their priorities and investments to continue to make the biggest impact. Beyond creating efficiencies and improving accessibility, robust tech investments also are great recruitment and retention tools and contribute to overall student success and workforce development.

Understand these long-term benefits and think about how they contribute to your overall vision. Once you understand your institution’s value proposition, you can more easily communicate it to current and potential students, faculty and staff, and the greater community.

RELATED: Equipping colleges with sufficient network bandwidth across campus.

Advocating for Technology Investments in Higher Ed

Postsecondary institutions have received an influx of funding over the past two years, thanks to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. For many colleges and universities, these funds helped get devices into the hands and students who previously lacked access and network connectivity to homes without it. The money also provided much-needed on-campus tech upgrades to help deliver quality learning experiences remotely.

But what happens when the funding runs out? Technology must be maintained and upgraded over time, so these initial investments in devices and digital transformation will require additional funds as time goes on.

Once you’ve made the investments and have shown students, faculty and parents what’s possible, it’s hard to go back. Earmarking additional funds to refresh, maintain and upgrade existing technology will be vital.

FIND OUT: How tech consolidation can bring efficiencies to higher ed.

I encourage IT leaders to join the funding conversations and use your voices to direct money toward technology initiatives. CTOs should be part of these conversations to influence how the university can use funding to help technology work better for students and faculty. Brush up on your storytelling skills to explain to administrators the impact that prioritizing spending on technology can have on the university’s overall recruitment, retention and student success goals.

For those higher education institutions that have been slow to use the funds available to them, CDW•G’s funding experts are great resources who can help you sift through the fine print and create a plan that will be sustainable in the long run.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that technology is not just nice to have; it is essential. It’s time to put the lessons learned over the past two years to the test to demonstrate higher education’s value now and in the future.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.

Vasyl Dolmatov/Getty Images

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