When it comes to budget cuts in 2009, nothing is sacrosanct, not even information technology.
According to a new report from the Campus Computing Project, IT budgets are being slashed in colleges and universities across the country despite a rising demand for resources and services. The report, which surveyed 500 institutions, found that 48 percent of respondents were facing IT budget cuts for the current academic year, as compared with 30.6 percent last year and just 13.1 percent in 2007. Likewise, the number of institutions with more money for IT was down to only 21.4 percent this year from 49 percent in 2008.
“IT has already gone through serious budget cuts after the dot-com bubble burst,” Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “A second decline is not easy to come back from.”
Mr. Green says the serious budget problems can be summed up by the fact that there is no single problem that IT leaders identify as the “most important IT issue confronting my campus.”
In past years there has always been one category that gets the highest response. In 2000, 40.5 percent of respondents said “instructional integration” was a top priority. This year, however, two categories — “financing IT” and “network upgrade” — received about 15 percent each, and five other categories received about 10 percent of the votes.
“There are so many problems coming at IT leaders right now that they don’t have just one problem,” says Mr. Green. “Each is a digital fire, and they can’t all be put out.”