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Tech Budgets

The Buck Goes Here

Comparing higher ed institutions' tech budgets can be a misleading exercise, because size is the dominant predictor in spending. But what about how institutions allocate their tech budgets to hardware, software, and other areas?

According to a May 2009 postsecondary market report published by the education division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), very large institutions (over 25,000 students) spent far more of their tech budgets on hardware (63%) than small (49%), medium (46%), and large (46%) schools in the same period (2005-06, the most recent year for which full-year data are available). Giant universities also spent less than 10% of their tech budgets on outside services, compared with the 24-28% spent by smaller institutions. The report authors suggest that "it is possible that these very large institutions have more internal capabilities and therefore less need for outside services."

When it comes to spending on tech training, however, there's a telling commonality among colleges and universities of all sizes: The SIIA states that higher ed institutions, regardless of size, dedicated a very small portion (3-4%) of their tech budgets to training. What's more, anecdotal evidence suggests that dollars for training might be squeezed even more in present-day budgets. The SIIA notes that the Campus Computing Project, a contributor to the SIIA report, didn't even include training in its most recent 2008 study-- an indication, the SIIA suggests, that "because of the economic downturn, colleges and universities may not be prioritizing training very much at all."

Average Higher Ed Tech Budgets by Institution Size & Allocation

  Hardware Software Outside
Enrollment: up to 2,500
Average Total Budget: $600k
$293k $137k $146k $25k
by Percentage
Enrollment: 2,501 to 10,000
Average Total Budget: $1.371 mil.
$638k $295k $380k $58k
by Percentage
Tech Budgets
Enrollment: 10,001 to 25,000
>Average Total Budget: $4.496 mil.
$2.045 mil. $1.124 mil. $1.191 mil. $136k
by Percentage
Tech Budgets
Very Large
Enrollment: over 25,000
Average Total Budget: $11.497 mil.
$7.198 mil. $2.764 mil. $1.031 mil. $505k
by Percentage
Tech Budgets
Dollars rounded to nearest thousand. Source: SIIA Postsecondary Market Report, May 2009, citing 2005-06 Market Data Retrieval data.
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