Oct 15 2010

EDUCAUSE 2010: Survey Finds Budget Cuts Abating

Campus Computing Survey reveals budget cuts are slowing in higher ed.

The era of IT budget cuts at colleges and universities is slowing, but IT managers are still feeling its effects.

That was just one of the findings of the 21st annual Campus Computing Survey, released Oct. 14 during a presentation at EDUCAUSE in Anaheim, Calif.

The survey, which is based on 523 responses, reports that 41.6 percent of colleges and universities experienced a budget cut in central IT services for the current academic year, down from roughly 50 percent last year.

"The new survey data provide a modicum of good news about money: fewer institutions experienced budget cuts this year," said Kenneth "Casey" Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project, which conducts the study every year.

"But the ongoing financial pressures confronting campus IT budgets continue to [hamper] the efforts of campus IT leaders to respond to the rising demand for IT resources and services," Green added.

According to Green, the two most important issues IT managers face are hiring and retaining qualified staff and coming up with the financing to replace aging hardware and software. Roughly one-third (34 percent) of respondents say they have reorganized academic computing in the past two years, and 15 percent who have reorganized expect to do it in the next two years.

One interesting finding this year was that student participation on social networks can create social problems for colleges and universities. Slightly more than 15 percent of the campuses in this year's study reported an incident stemming from social networking site activity, such as cyberstalking or cyberbullying – up from 8.6 percent in 2006.

Some sectors had more trouble than others, it seems. Incident numbers at public universities, for example, jumped from 15.8 percent in 2009 to 27.3 percent in 2010; for public four-year colleges, the number of social network-related incidents rose from 13.6 percent in 2009 to 20.8 percent in 2010.

"These numbers suggest it will be difficult for campus officials to ignore the consequences of student behavior on social networks," Green said. "The reality is that student behaviors are established well before they arrive on campus."

As a result, he added, "Expect to see more user education around privacy and digital citizenship rights and responsibilities."

The 2010 Campus Computing Survey also noted the following trends:

  • Growth of e-books. Eighty-six percent of survey participants either agree or strongly agree that e-book content will be an important source for instructional resources in five years, up from 74 percent in 2009.
  • Student e-mail outsourced. Sixty percent of campuses surveyed outsource student e-mail, while only 15 percent outsource faculty e-mail.
  • Lecture capture catches on. Nearly two-thirds (60.5 percent) of respondents agree or strongly agree that lecture capture is an important part of the college's plan for developing and delivering instructional content.
  • Mobile apps expand. Sixty-five percent of respondents said mobile apps are an important part of the campus plan to enhance resources and services.

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