Skip to main

Universities Can Cut Costs Without Cutting Corners

Download Point of View
Point of View

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 cancelled around the world, it exacerbated the financial difficulties that universities already faced, finally driving adoption of technologies to support the spike in remote learning.

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. How? Through cloud optimisation, operational intelligence, and application modernisation – three technology advances that have already created tremendous improvements in businesses of all kinds and are now being adapted to higher educations’ specific needs. These technologies have been driving financial successes for years, COVID-19 simply made them urgent priorities for universities.

This Point of View explores how universities can cut costs without cutting corners and the tech advances that can help accomplish this.

The revenue impact has been harsh. Universities Australia conservatively estimated a revenue loss of between $3.0 billion and $4.6 billion in 2020 and a loss of around 21,000 full-time employees university jobs, plus a further loss of $5 billion to $6 billion by 2030. Kearney Consulting anticipated a 2020 decline in domestic students of between 15-20% and international students 30-50%, resulting in a reduction of $7 billion to $9 billion for Australian universities.

Hopes that COVID-19’s impact on the Australian tertiary education sector would subside after a year did not eventuate due to ongoing international travel restrictions into Australia and multiple lock-downs forcing students at all levels into remote learning. Instead, universities are under pressure to adapt to these conditions by operating more efficiently and productively. Experts predict that some degree programs could be jettisoned while some universities may be forced to close and others to seek merger partners.

Fortunately, powerful, proven advances in technology hold tremendous promise for that purpose. 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, and provide a better user experience to more than 440,000 students and 52,000 faculty, while enhancing operational efficiencies and reducing costs.

Leon Sayers

Leon Sayers

Leon Sayers is the Director of Advisory at Unisys APAC. Leon specialises in Digital Transformation, Hybrid/Multi Cloud, Digital Workspace, ITSM, Operational Intelligence, Application Modernisation and Automation.