Feb 16 2023

How Technology Protection Programs Can Save Higher Ed IT Teams

Colleges and universities can take some of the guesswork out of total cost of ownership calculations with these plans.

It’s no secret that college students have rising expectations around their digital experiences. With technology integrated into their personal lives at every level, they are demanding the same in support of their academic efforts.

Faulty devices interfere with the student experience and erode the university’s value proposition. In its “2022 Students and Technology Report,” EDUCAUSE found that 77 percent of respondents reported facing one or more technology issue within the past academic year, and 51 percent said these issues caused them stress.

Technology protection plans like CDW Product Protection offer a way forward. Such plans can help to keep devices up and running while helping colleges and universities to realize a better operational and education return on their technology investments.

The Total Cost of Ownership Formula in Higher Ed IT

To understand the value of an IT protection plan, it’s helpful to consider total cost of ownership, or TCO. For colleges and universities, the true cost of technology goes well beyond the upfront price tag on a given device.

A school “also needs a plan for replacements and upgrades, just as is the case with campus facilities,” according to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. “If it doesn’t have such a plan, unwelcome financial surprises are inevitable in the future.”

In order to get the most out of their tech investments and avoid surprises, higher ed leaders must adopt “a programmatic and proactive cost management approach,” Gartner notes.

Such an approach will include a strategy to effectively manage TCO in a technology investment, including anticipated costs around repairs. A protection plan can be a key component in such a strategy.

EXPLORE: Licensing and warranty management can help universities cut costs.

How Do IT Product Protection Plans Work?

Product protection plans generally are designed to extend and/or enhance the manufacturer’s original warranty. They may cover a range of devices and, depending on the level of protection and the type of plan, can be used to offset a variety of potential costs.

Consider, for example, CDW Product Protection offerings for higher education.

Two of the three plans offered by CDW, Premium and Standard+, provide enhanced protection, including coverage for accidental damage from handling and device protection in the event of drops, falls or spills. Higher ed institutions also can take advantage of a feature in Premium plans that removes the limit on the number of covered repairs over the life of the plan.


The percentage of students that reported facing one or more technology issue within the past academic year

Source: EDUCAUSE, "2022 Students and Technology Report," Oct. 3, 2022

The third offering from CDW is the Standard plan, which provides coverage in the event of mechanical or electrical failures that may occur in a device after the manufacturer’s original warranty has expired.

Such plans cover a broad ecosystem of devices. They may protect laptops, Chromebooks, and desktop PCs for two-, three- and four-year terms (depending on the plan), as well as tablets and Apple iPad devices for two- and three-year terms. Smartphone coverage also is available.

Protection plans also can help universities manage total cost of ownership beyond personal devices, with support for classroom and back-office technologies. CDW’s Standard plan, for instance, covers printers, and Standard+ protection supports camera repairs. There’s also coverage available for projectors, TVs and monitors.

LEARN MORE: Device programs help increase enrollment and boost student success.

Product Protection Plans Should Be Backed By a Trusted Partner

Not all IT protection plans are created equal, of course. In their efforts to defray unexpected impacts on TCO, IT leaders will want to look for a plan that is backed by a reputable partner.

CDW Product Protection plans, for example, are underwritten by Safeware and are backed by an AM Best A-rated insurance carrier.

Safeware partners with over 800 colleges and universities nationwide and has 40 years of experience delivering industry-leading programs and coverage. Claims for the CDW Product Protection plan are serviced by members of Safeware’s Authorized Service Network, allowing for rapid repair of devices.

Colleges and universities rely on Safeware to manage all regulatory and compliance aspects of the protection plans, including licensing.

How much does all this really matter? Like it or not, higher education IT departments are very much in the device management business, and even more so in a time of remote and hybrid learning. When those devices are university-owned, there’s even more responsibility on IT leaders to keep them running smoothly.

At a time when CIOs are “struggling to keep up with cost-constrained budgets,” as EDUCAUSE reports, manufacturer warranties are useful, but protection plans go even further: They help schools to meet their missions and drive student success while empowering IT to more effectively manage technology spending.

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