Doing more with less: higher education’s new normal
Higher educational institutions have long had to balance budget limitations with their goals of delivering superior learning experiences, attracting and retaining top-tier talent, and meeting governing boards’ demands for outstanding fiscal and academic outcomes.
With the recent chaos and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the balance has tipped increasingly toward budget shortfalls due to drastically reduced revenues and state funding, and increased expenses in IT infrastructure and services to introduce or expand remote learning capabilities in the era of social distancing.
Rutgers University recently spent $50 million to refund students of unused campus services such as dining, housing, and parking as a direct result of the pandemic.1 Rutgers medical centers lost an additional $60 million from canceled surgical procedures.2 All of this lost revenue was exacerbated by a loss of another $73 million in state appropriations due to a state spending freeze to compensate for severe tax revenue shortfalls.
Public colleges across the country are dealing with the same dire finances. Add to that the fact that more than two-thirds of universities feel that institutional IT funding hadn’t even fully recovered from the sharp budget cuts caused by the 2008 recession and one thing becomes painfully clear: doing more with less will be the new normal for many years to come.
Now more than ever, IT leaders in higher education will be forced to find creative ways to stretch their budgets. We believe that substantial money can be found by taking a closer look at how these organizations store their data.
Where are your IT dollars going?
With increasing pressure to do more with less, IT professionals in higher education must be extremely deliberate about how they spend their shrinking budgets. A recent survey revealed that the majority of an institution’s general budget goes toward teacher and administrator salaries and the costs of operating its physical facilities. Less than 3% is typically allocated to technology investment and operations. And with the astronomical amount of data that people and machines generate in today’s digitized world, nearly half of a university’s IT budget can be consumed by data storage.
Skyrocketing data drives institutional growth (and costs!)
Just like enterprises in every industry across the world, higher education institutions are being deluged with a massive, increasing volume of digital data. Universities and colleges must store not only student records and transcripts, but health and financial data, employment information, research, BYOD data, and video surveillance footage. The Covid-19 pandemic has added to this growing need with a dramatic increase in recorded course content, video lectures, and other online learning materials and applications.
IIt’s not just the amount but the size of files that are growing as well. Many schools save decades of video footage of student presentations, recitals, and sporting events—making them available to students and staff in active digital archives. High-resolution surveillance video for campus security is often stored for months if not years. Large medical and research universities, in particular, grapple with storing petabytes and exabytes of research data, much of which must be stored indefinitely.
All of that data has become the lifeblood of the university. It’s the information that drives your administrative and educational decisions, that helps you see which initiatives are working, and that powers the future growth of the institution. It’s no wonder, then, that educational institutions are using a lot more storage space than they did just a few years ago.
The growing importance of storing ever more data is the reason why storage is taking a larger share of your shrinking budget—which is exactly why making storage a priority now can pay dividends for years to come. With the right data storage strategy, you can centralize your technology, manage infrastructure more efficiently, free up limited resources, improve performance across the entire ecosystem—and stretch your budget dollars even further.
Let’s take a deeper look at the various storage options available.