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Survey: Cloud Proves Worth During Pandemic

In recent survey of higher education leaders, 64 percent of respondents said the cloud has been "very valuable" during the pandemic. And another 32 percent found cloud-based computing services "somewhat valuable."

The primary areas where cloud services have proven most advantageous to the college's operations were in delivery of online instruction (76 percent) and student services (56 percent). Slightly more than half of survey participants (52 percent) also referenced enrollment and admissions management and adoption of the latest technology as key cloud benefits. Four in 10 (43 percent) cited reallocation of IT staff and a third (33 percent) mentioned financial management.

While more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) reported that their institutions were cloud-based, even more (63 percent) expected to increase cloud adoption in time, with expectations that over the next two years, some 69 percent of applications on campus would be online rather than on-premise.

The survey, which drew responses from 665 participants, was conducted in March 2021 by The Chronicle of Higher Education and sponsored by Ellucian, which produces SaaS-based applications for higher education.

Most of these presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, directors, and finance and IT officers gave their schools high ratings for being prepared for the pandemic from a technology standpoint, although responses varied by area of responsibility. While six in 10 college leaders (60 percent) and finance officers (58 percent) agreed with the statement that their institution's technological capabilities and systems were primed for remote education and operations, nearly three-quarters of technology officers (74 percent) said the same.

A majority of respondents (57 percent) also gave themselves fairly high marks for maintaining a balance between innovation with academic technologies and following a "deliberate strategic approach." Another 23 percent disagreed with that assessment, and 20 percent said they didn't know.

Respondents overwhelmingly agreed (86 percent) that the pandemic tightened collaboration on technology decisions among senior administrators. And three-quarters said they expected the collaboration to continue after the impact of the pandemic has abated.

"The survey results underscore that despite the pandemic, the higher education community remains committed to serving students with excellence," said Stephen Laster, Ellucian chief product officer, in a statement. "Recognizing that education is the imperative for global success, we must continue to align human abilities with technology capabilities and embrace digital transformation as a driver of enhanced experience and outcomes."

The full survey report is available with registration through the Chronicle 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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