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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Campuses Face Higher IT Costs

December 14, 2004

Information technology funding on campus faces increasing hurdles, particularly in the area of security, according to two new studies. The Chronicle of Higher Education  surveyed 501 colleges and universities on the status of IT security. A separate report by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) examines IT funding issues facing campuses. The need for increased resources -- particularly in the area of IT security -- in an environment of flat or shrinking budgets was a common conclusion in both releases.

In the Chronicle  survey, more than half of the respondents spent more on computer network security this year than last year. Meanwhile, campuses are increasing security without additional resources: More than 57 percent of the respondents had a declining or flat information technology budget for the year. More than half of the respondents now have at least one IT staff member working full-time on security-related issues, and every respondent experienced some sort of security breach during the year. The most common security issues were viruses and worms infecting networks, while half to two-thirds experienced laptop or desktop theft or denial-of-service attacks aimed at their network. Surprisingly, only 46 percent of respondents had a formal IT-security plan in place at the time of the survey, although 43 percent said they would have a plan in place within the next 12 months.

Full results of The Chronicle’s survey are available online. A paid subscription is required.

The ECAR report stresses flexibility in both the IT architectures and the budgets funding IT in order to meet the demands of colleges and universities without additional funding increases. Examples in the report include examining and using a number of sourcing options such as open source technology; collaborative efforts with other institutions; outsourcing; and working closely with vendors. IT budget flexibility was also mentioned as an area requiring attention through a process standardizing budget reviews, creating objective evaluation criteria for IT goals, and giving greater power to IT advisory groups on campus.

ECAR used several data sources for its report, including a survey of 386 NACUBO members and 482 EDUCAUSE members. The ECAR report's key findings are available on the EDUCAUSE Web site.