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While the throes of the pandemic may be behind us, higher ed institutions are still dealing with the aftermath. Many fundamental changes have occurred over the past three years, and many colleges and universities are still adapting. 

The pandemic highlighted issues and inefficiencies in campus operations. With roughly 70% of institutional spending allocated to people, many are wondering how to upgrade technology and operations under tight budgets. 

To rightsize financial obligations schools must first understand the trends in higher ed. This can help colleges and universities strategically allocate resources where they are needed to meet the evolving needs of students. Let’s look at the top three trends in higher ed for 2023. 

1. Hybrid Learning is Here to Stay

There has been an uptick in remote and hybrid learning as a result of the pandemic. What’s more, many workers who went remote are hesitant to return to campus in some cases, placing extra strain on certain operations. 

As many students and staff do return to campus while remote learning continues, additional needs can place stress on IT infrastructures. Technology can solve many of the new and unique issues campuses are facing, but it requires a strong technical backbone. Not all schools have the bandwidth or the necessary infrastructure to support new developments. 

Modernizing network infrastructure is no easy feat, especially for facilities that are aging rapidly. Major structural changes could be required, which can put a damper on plans to upgrade. In other cases, finding personnel to support changes can be difficult. Many universities operating in a hybrid environment have staff that is on-site on certain days and remote on others. This can make it difficult to coordinate with the necessary staff to make changes. 

Students have made it clear that they prefer hybrid learning for its flexibility and convenience. Even as fully-online institutions have launched in recent years, students are still enrolling for on-campus learning. This hybrid trend in higher ed calls on universities to adapt and innovate around the campus experience to cater to the new needs of staff, faculty, and students. 

2. Data Holds the Key to Successful Campus Operations

Disparate data has long been a problem for colleges and universities. Keeping track of data across one or more campuses with numerous departments is challenging. Tracking labor usage, payments, and other workflows requires data-sharing capabilities that many do not have. 

This is complicated by the fact that many departments operate on legacy systems or a web of insulated systems that do not communicate well or integrate with campus-wide systems. Collaborating or sharing data between these silos is nearly impossible. 

Colleges and universities must enable future growth by eliminating the disparate data obstacle. This means considering a shared services environment and more comprehensive platforms that enable administrators across departments to increase efficiency. Comprehensive data sharing can provide better insights, visibility, and automation while reducing manual labor and errors.  

On the regulatory front, comprehensive data visibility enables higher ed institutions to remain compliant and operate in line with regulatory requirements. This is especially critical for payments operations.

3. Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware attacks continue to be a major threat to colleges and universities. Unfortunately, many institutions are not as well-equipped as their counterparts in the commercial sector when it comes to cybersecurity. The tendency toward fragmented ecosystems can make it extremely difficult to protect networks and systems. 

Schools should continue to work in tandem with private partners and government and law enforcement agencies to ramp up cybersecurity efforts. An increased eye toward identifying and mitigating threats can go a long way in safeguarding students and staff from bad actors. Colleges and universities should also invest in training programs that keep students and faculty abreast of the latest cyber-attack methods like phishing, smishing, and others. All it takes is one click of a link to compromise the entire university network. 

Navigating Trends in Higher Ed

Higher ed continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Between hybrid learning, the need for data sharing, and increased cyber threats, schools have their work cut out. Arrow Payments can help you navigate the trends in higher ed, especially when it comes to payments operations. Our team of experts understands the industry and has deep knowledge and insights on all things payments-related. Reach out today for your free consultation. 

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