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Analytics Work on Campus Still a Mixed Bag

Two-year institutions consider learning analytics more important than institutional analytics (those that improve operational efficiency), while four-year institutions believe the opposite. In a survey of 200 college and university leaders, 52 percent of two-year leaders favored learning analytics over institutional analytics, while just 35 percent of four-year schools did the same.

The survey was sponsored by Ellucian, a major technology company serving higher education, and managed by Ovum, which contacted survey participants by phone. Respondents included presidents (18 percent), provosts (33 percent), chief financial officers (17 percent) and CIOs or CTOs (32 percent).

Currently, these institutional leaders understand the increasing need for analytics programs on campus. Six in 10 respondents (61 percent) already have some kind of analytics program at their institution. For most of those schools (59 percent), it's enterprise wide; for the remainder, it's departmental in nature.

According to the survey, college leaders are "divided" on whether their institutions are investing appropriately. While half agreed that the analytics investment was appropriate today, 47 percent agreed that it would be on target over the next two to three years.

While IT chiefs dominate in developing analytics strategy (67 percent), it's the other leaders who make the final decision regarding investment (62 percent for CFOs and 61 percent for presidents).

Top barriers to analytics adoption in higher education. Source: "What will it take to build an analytics-driven campus?" from Ellucian.

The barriers to implementation were dominated by budget considerations. Eighty-three percent of respondents reported that implementation costs were considered too high; 61 percent noted that the potential return on investment was "insufficiently clear." Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) also specified a lack of willingness to share data across departments or colleges and, separately, a fear of exposing inefficiencies or under-performance. A lack of supporting tools or technology was acknowledged by 45 percent of survey participants.

Building a successful "analytics-driven campus," the report advised, will require institutions to "address the differing priorities campus leaders have." Whether it's providing retention and completion data, tracking operational efficiency or giving early warning to boost learning outcomes, "colleges need reports that answer the key questions each user asks to meet his or her goals."

The report is openly available on the Ellucian website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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