University IT teams shrank during pandemic, but security positions grew

Nearly half of college and university IT leaders reported that their teams shrank last year, according to a report published by Educause this week.

Of more than 250 university IT leaders surveyed, 42% said they lost positions on their staffs in the year preceding October 2021, with many citing budget cuts. Many schools are now reviewing the IT positions on their payrolls and are exploring centralization or reorganization, respondents told Educause.

“Many positions are based on job specs from 15–20 years ago and are no longer relevant in today’s profession,” said one IT leader quoted in the report.

University IT officials seem to be leveraging the momentum of the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the report’s author, Jenay Robert, wrote in an email to EdScoop. Respondents said they were focused on efficiency and efficacy, she added.

About a quarter of respondents said they added staff members, with the most growth coming in information security, followed by data, analytics and business intelligence. There was also growth in instructional technology, Robert wrote, but half of respondents saw no growth in any of the areas that Educause researchers listed.

The uptick in information security jobs was largely to address the risks that come from hybrid and remote work, the survey found. But some schools’ refusals to accommodate hybrid schedules also led to problems with retention and hiring new employees. About three-quarters of respondents said remote work and competitive compensation are important to their IT organization strategy.

“[Work-from-home] requests have not been supported by leaders, [which] has led to employees questioning the below-industry-level compensation and benefits for other positions that do appear to support/reward employees,” one leader told the survey.

The report’s results build on a 2021 Educause poll in which university IT workers, particularly in middle management, said they were considering resignation. Only about a quarter of that group said they were considering other higher education institutions. Among the top reasons cited for considering leaving included poor leadership, lack of resources, and more income or jobs elsewhere.

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