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Universities Can Cut Costs Without Cutting Corners

How three tech advances are helping higher education reverse its financial losses

COVID-19’s powerful impact on higher education is accomplishing action that many university CIOs and CTOs have long urged sometimes skeptical or reluctant leaders to take: it has propelled the sector along its digital transformation journey. When COVID-19 caused more than half of in-person education programs to be postponed or canceled around the world, it exacerbated the financial difficulties that many universities already faced, finally driving adoption of technologies to support the spike in remote learning.

The revenue impact can be attributed to decreases in international student tuition fees, lost room and board income. In 2020, U.S. universities reported a staggering 72% decrease in international students, accounting for $38.7 billion and supporting 416,000 jobs in the 2019-2020 school year. With the loss of the traditional on-campus experience, students and their parents demanded tuition reductions for online classes and even sued universities for refunds while some have decided to take time off rather than attend classes online.

Universities are under pressure to adapt to current conditions through remote teaching and to be more efficient and productive. Experts predict that some universities could jettison degree programs, some may be forced to close and others seek merger partners.

Fortunately, powerful, proven advances in technology hold tremendous promise for that purpose. For example, in our work with one of the world’s largest university systems, our secure, analytics-driven hybrid cloud technology and services produced a 33% reduction in IT infrastructure costs in concert with a 90% improvement in data delivery and data access performance to the campuses while supporting student enrolment rate increases of more than 40%. These outcomes help the client integrate hybrid cloud information resources to deliver more innovative educational and administrative services across more than 20 campuses. It provides a better user experience to more than 440,000 students and 52,000 faculty while enhancing operational efficiencies and reducing costs. In other words, when we talk about efficiency and productivity, we are definitely not talking about cutting corners, reducing services, or sacrificing quality. We are talking about expanding universities’ ability to deliver value and a better student/ faculty experience while reducing operating costs.