Top 10 IT Issues Facing Higher Education in 2023

Higher education institutional and technology leaders must be ready for a new approach, dismissing previous models of management and operations as enrollment to credentials and the campus decision-making are showing signs of wear. Existing foundations need to be examined and strengthened moving forward to compete in this new blended learning environment.

The EDUCAUSE Top 10 Issues for 2023 are based on what was learned during and after the pandemic and constitute the three building blocks of leadership, data, and work and learning.

The top 10 IT issues for 2023 include:

  1. A Seat at the Table: Ensuring IT leadership is a full partner in institutional strategic planning
  2. Privacy and Cybersecurity 101: Embedding privacy and cybersecurity education and awareness in the curriculum and in the workplace
  3. Evolve, Adapt, or Lose Talent: Creating a workplace that allows for and supports movement up, down, and sideways to accommodate shifts in personal and professional goals and to foster healthier work/life balance
  4. Smooth Sailing for the Student Experience: Using technology, data insight, and agility to create a frictionless student experience
  5. Enriching the Leadership Playbook: Leading with humility and candor to engage, empower, and retain the IT workforce
  6. Expanding Enrollments and the Bottom Line: Focusing data and analytics initiatives or identifying academic programs with high potential for recruitment ROI
  7. Moving from Data Insight to Data Action: Converting data analytics into action plans to power institutional performance, enhance operational efficiency, and improve student success
  8. A New Era of IT Support: Updating IT services to support remote/hybrid work
  9. Online, In-Person, or Hybrid? Yes: Developing a learning-first, technology-enabled learning strategy
  10. SaaS, ERP, and CRM: An Alphabet Soup of Opportunity: Managing cost, risk, and value of investments in new ERP solutions

Together, the 2023 Top 10 IT Issues are the grounds for the new foundation models which EDUCAUSE has structured in three building blocks as follows:

  1. Leadership (Leading with Wisdom): Encapsulating issues 1, 3, and 5, leading with wisdom in 21st century higher education setting requires technology leaders to take a more central role within the institution.Presidents and governing boards require IT leaders to advise on where education technology is heading. Having a seat at the table allows IT leaders to have parity with the rest of the institutional leadership. Having a better understanding about the institution’s operations, culture, and mission allows them to better know what it is needed as well as when and where it is needed. Leading with wisdom is also about finding a way to reinvent the workplace culture within the institution, adapting career and talent management to individuals’ evolving needs geared to a work-life balance. The technology workforce needs to be taken care of, and leaders must establish expectations as well as accountability, yet, be receptive to viewpoints and ideas.
  2.  Data (The Ultra-Intelligent Institution): This is about issues 2, 4, 6, and 7 with privacy and cybersecurity education and awareness topping the list not only in the curriculum but in the workplace as well. The ultra-intelligent machine refers to “a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever;” this was a concept brought by British genius mathematician, statistician, and cryptologist Irving John “Jack” Good in 1966. His conceptual machine was embodied with both memory and meaning, was capable of self-learning, and needed to be designed with economy because its cost would be exceedingly high. This conceptual machine presaged some aspects of Artificial Intelligence and foundation models. And like Good’s machine, data and analytics in higher education must provide decision-makers with increasingly sophisticated insights and must be carefully designed since this work, too, may be utterly expensive. The ultra-intelligent institution must rely on data as well as technology for its operations. However, data and its collection can be both a blessing and a curse. Data can help to improve the student experience and expand enrollment. Data can also represent a risk if not safeguarded properly from the hands of cybercriminals. Cybercrime never sleeps, thus IT leaders must remain alert as well as educating and bringing awareness to arm all institutional constituents with behaviors and good practices to safeguard both individual and institution data.
  3. Work and Learning (Everything is Anywhere): Based on issues 8, 9, and 10, work and learning transition from physical to remote/hybrid is completed. IT services must be updated to reflect the higher education tribrid model. Everything is anywhere is a call for developing a learning-first and technology-enabled learning strategy getting the best ROI in new ERP solutions and other important technologies embracing digital transformation.