Research and Data Services for Higher Education Information Technology: Past, Present, and Future
By Susan Grajek
Higher education IT data needs to go beyond descriptive analysis to new ways of using data and research to align IT strategy with institutional strategy, plan new services and initiatives, manage existing services, and operate the IT organization on a daily basis.
We—those of us in the higher education community—live in interesting times. For decades, higher education has occupied a relatively stable, trusted position in our society, as a place to invest our most precious resources: our youth, our minds, our future, our values.
Today, the purpose and value of higher education is under question and under transformation. A campus-based, full-time experience for 18- to 22-year-olds has given way to a much more diverse educational landscape and student demographic. What was once seen as requisite for completing the intellectual journey to maturity is now increasingly viewed as a necessity for employment and financial security.1 The value proposition is now more about economic security than self-actualization. But with rising costs and student debt (over two-thirds of college graduates are burdened with debt, whose average has risen to $24,000),2 and shifts in enrollment patterns, the public is questioning the affordability of a college education at the same moment a college degree has begun to be viewed as a necessity for job security.
With imperiled endowments, cuts in federal and state support, burgeoning costs of regulatory compliance, and the resulting institutional budget shortfalls, higher education leaders are hard-pressed to respond to calls for lowering the costs of higher education. The business model of higher education is broken.3