When It Comes to Institutional Strategies: What Do CIOs and CTOs Have to Say?

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To better understand the state of higher education technology, Inside Higher Ed collaborated with Hanover Research and conducted its first-ever Survey of Campus Chief Technology/Information Officers. The company collected over 175 responses from CIOs and CTOs working in both private and public institutions. Below, we examine some of the survey’s key findings. You can access the survey findings directly here.

Higher Education Needs to Invest More in Modern Technology

In the survey, CIOs reported that one of the biggest challenges for institutions when it comes to achieving their digital goals is insufficient financial investment. In fact, few CIOs reported that their institution had made meaningful investments in new, cutting-edge technology.

Though many believed investments in new technologies were lacking, a large portion of respondents said they were using technologies at their disposal to improve outcomes. Specifically, 57% said their institution prioritized using data for student success, while another 54% said their institution used data for better retention insights. Given the role that technology plays in the ability to gather and make use of student data, institutions will need to concentrate investments on modern solutions that can push digital transformation initiatives forward.

Colleges and Universities Need to Pursue a Flexible/Hybrid Work Model

The employment crisis in higher education has hit IT departments particularly hard. According to the survey, most CIOs agreed that their institution was struggling to hire new technology employees, and nearly 62% said their institution was struggling to retain current IT employees. Why are employees leaving college IT departments? According to respondents, they are leaving for better salaries and more flexible work.

Regarding remote work policies, 93% of those surveyed agreed that employees expected more flexible work opportunities, especially given how remote working became the norm in a post-pandemic climate. However, only half agreed that their institution had policies that encouraged remote/flexible work.

Many higher education institutions don’t have a lot of flexibility in their already tight budgets to increase IT salaries. But, given that nearly 8 out of every 10 respondents strongly agreed that their institution had technology to make remote work viable, colleges and universities looking to hire and retain more IT staff might want to investigate implementing more flexible work environments.

Campuses Would Benefit From Putting IT Leaders in Advisory Positions

CIOs and CTOs have a great deal of insight into how technology can impact student experiences and drive the business of higher education. Many of those surveyed believed that their institutions could be doing better on these fronts. In fact, only about a third of respondents said their institutions’ technology investments in data analysis were very or extremely effective, despite the critical importance that many institutions have placed on data.

When asked if they felt administrators treated the central technology unit more like a utility than a strategic partner, more than half of CIOs and CTOs agreed. When asked whether they believed that their institutions had set specific goals for digital transformation, nearly two-thirds of CIOs said “No.” Given how important digital transformation is to institutional and student success initiatives, and given the unique insight CIOs have and the key role they play in digital transformation, it would likely benefit an institution to give CIOs and CTOs an active role in the president’s cabinet—or at least a more prominent role in making strategic decisions for the institution.

Interested in reading the survey in its entirety? You can download the full report here.

2022 Survey of Campus Chief Technology/Information Officers

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