Until a few months ago, I worked for a university IT department. I have to say that when I first went to work there, it was a very different affair than the corporate environments I had previously worked in, and it came as something of a shock to the system.
Making Do Does You No Harm
Whereas in a corporate IT environment you get given the best, up-to-date, fastest, and most powerful machines you can get your hands on, in public sector universities it is an entirely different story. Putting it bluntly, you get what is left after the students have been catered to. Not only that, but if you need any software other than the basic desktop with office-related products, it’s up to you to obtain and install them! It was such an about-turn from what I had been used to that I do think I may have just looked blankly at my boss and said “what?” But at the end of the day, I could do my job with the equipment I had, so, really, did it matter?
Students Before Staff
There has been a big focus on student satisfaction at universities in recent years. This is even more important now if you take into account the changes in funding, which make the education sector a much more competitive area to be in. Students will use things like the quality of the technology available to them as a driving force as to whether they want to choose a particular university or not. This was very obvious at the university I worked for, and I am more than aware of the spectacular amounts of money that were invested every time a building was renovated or new parts of the campus were built, just on the technology alone.
Just Never Satisfied
Sadly, it appears to be the case that however much money you spend on the technology available to them, students will never be entirely happy. The problem is that there is always something better and newer elsewhere. Such is the nature of the ever-evolving technology sector. It is an awful lot like keeping up with the Joneses. A friend’s son came along to the university for an open day and was openly verbal about his dissatisfaction with the desktops available, wanting to know why they weren’t just given mobile devices. Perhaps they should be made to work with the staff computers.
This is probably something that is here to stay with educational establishments. It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. University websites are now promotional tools with a big marketing edge. Universities, like anyone else, need to use blogs, WordPress sites, and anything else available to promote themselves. Click here to learn more about optimising your own site, just like the university I work for. I just hope that we do not disappoint them when they actually arrive at the university doors.
Image attributed to FreeDigitalPhotos.net Gualberto107