Academic Tech Spending

Where does the money go?

June 23, 2014

I’ve been spending some time with the EDUCAUSE CDS (Core Data Service) 2013 Executive Summary Report.

What I’m hoping to figure out is where and how higher ed spends on technology.  

How much do we spend and where does the money go?

These questions were in part inspired by a question that Brad Wheeler asks in his must-read essay in EDUCAUSE Review Speeding Up on Curves (January 2014):

"What would it look like if we set a 2020 aspirational goal to reallocate 50 percent of the cost of administrative services (not just systems) into the core of the institutional mission—into scholarships, learning spaces, online learning, and research labs?”

From the CDS report some numbers that I pulled out that caught my attention:

  • Central IT spending accounts for between 3.2% and 5.2% of institutional budgets.
  • Technology spending per FTE ranges from about $500 to about $1,500 depending on the type of school.
  • The average spending per FTE on technology in higher ed is $925 per year.
  • About 15 percent of all central academic IT staff are classified as “educational technology services”.  I assume that means that about one-in-seven folks in higher ed IT have jobs like instructional designer or educational technologist or LMS administrator.
  • On average, about 40 percent of central IT spending goes to core mission related activities of teaching, learning, and research.  The rest goes to administrative functions.
  • For the entire academic IT budget, about 80 percent is spent on run (ongoing operations), 14 percent on grow (incremental growth or improvements), and 6 percent on change (transformative and long-term future investments).

How do these numbers compare to those at your school?

Is how the IT money is spent something that is openly discussed on your campus?  

What are the barriers and downsides for such a discussion?

What would need to happen to reallocate IT resources from administrative tasks to mission related functions around teaching, learning and research?


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