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Average Central IT Spending for 2020-2021 Was $7.7M, According to Educause Benchmark Data

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The Educause Core Data Service has released its Interactive Almanac for 2021, offering higher education IT spending and staffing data that institutions can use to benchmark their own resource allocations. The findings are based on roughly 400 reporting institutions across the United States.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the median spending in central IT (including both operating spending and capital spending) was about $7.7 million, representing an average of 4.2% of the institution's total expenditures. The median dollar amount spent per student was $1,316.

Spending varied significantly across institution types. At one end of the spectrum, public doctoral institutions spent up to $50.5 million in central IT, while spending at community colleges was much lower at up to $5.8 million. When you look at central IT spend as a percentage of institutional expenditures, that dichotomy is reversed: IT spending in community colleges accounted for 4.5% to 7.2% of total institutional spending, while that figure for public doctoral institutions was 2.3% to 3.8%.

Roughly one-third of institutions said they plan to increase central IT operating spending (32%) and central IT capital spending (37%) in the coming year.

On average, college and university central IT staffs represented about 4.2% of all staff across the institution. Forty percent of institutions said they plan to increase central IT staffing in the coming year. Anticipated changes in staffing were particularly high at private doctoral institutions; 56% of institutions of that type said they plan to hire more central IT staff. Just 30% of community colleges said the same.

Educause also collected several data points on professional development and staff turnover (these were based on 281-377 reporting U.S. institutions):

  • On average, central IT departments spent $231 per staff member on professional development. Community colleges and public doctoral institutions both had some of the highest spending on professional development, reporting as much as $626 spent per IT FTE.
  • 8% of central IT staff left their jobs in the past year. The highest turnover rates were seen in private master's institutions, which reported departures of up to 18% in their IT staffs.
  • 36% of new central IT hires came from underrepresented groups. Diversity in new hires was highest at private doctoral institutions (up to 67%).

For more information on benchmarking and participating in the Core Data Service survey, visit the Educause site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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