Higher Education & Budgets: Collaborative or Not?

The organizational make-up of higher education institutions is one of the more intriguing constructs in society today.

Although not necessarily uniform throughout the world, many of these institutions will employ a CIO (and her team) to drive a technology vision for students, faculty, administration and alumni. Ironically, the CIO may not hold all of the technology budget dollars at a corporate level due to the various schools or faculties holding a portion or the entire aforementioned technology budget at their level.

From my experience, both working in higher education as well as working with higher education institutions, the ‘tug-of-war’ between the CIO team and the faculties, when it comes to a unified technology strategy is, at times, analogous to the same situation that occurs in some for-profit organizations with the CIO’s office and departmental business units.

Control of budget often becomes a disengaging action exhibiting divorce-like behaviours not collaborative.

Budget, whether in control or not, becomes a very dividing issue.

All is not lost, however, and there is good news to report.

Take for example the work of Andrew Abboud, formerly of London City University in England, now CIO of Laureate Education Group in Switzerland. In spite of three different chancellors over a 27-month period, Andrew was able to unify the organization from a technological perspective by implementing both Moodle and Lotus Connections. The latter was crucial, in my opinion, to ensure faculty, administration, students and alumni were collaborating through social learning and social media means. However he did it, he managed to tackle the budget issue and implemented two key pieces that clearly will help London City University for years to come, as it relates to engagement, learning, leadership, collaboration, and so on.

Closer to my home, I’m pleased to see that the CIO of the University of British Columbia, Oliver Gruter-Andrew, has posted a position reporting into him entitled “Director, Digital Media Technologies”.

Although I can’t speak to any real or perceived budget matters at UBC, what I am pleased to see are the following lines from the job description:

Over the past several years various localized efforts have been made to expand the use of such technologies, some with substantial investment and great success. Going forward, the university is seeking to enhance and broaden the availability of technology in these areas from locally-driven point solutions to institution-wide supported services that can be available to all education and communication professionals.

To me, it implies Oliver has sorted out a way in which he can align the University such that all stakeholders are invested in a successful outcome that includes all faculties across campus.

There are other examples out there in higher education as well, but for now, it’s great to see the work of Andrew and Oliver uniting the direction of their former and current institutions.

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2 comments on “Higher Education & Budgets: Collaborative or Not?”

  1. Thanks for the comments, Dan. There are real budget line items that match the ambition about use of digital media at UBC. They were placed under my line management and will be overseen by a governance committee representing a broad cross-section of academic and administrative outcome owners at the university. The historic fragmentation of communication channels at UBC, including the general web presence, make it a non-trivial task to align the majority of our contents owners to presenting themselves with a common face to the outside world. Budget items and commitments to governance committees show the university is serious about turning itself around in this respect and achieve a leadership position in its sector.

Hey! I'd love to read what you think. Surely you have an opinion. Love, Dan.