Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud adoption in the higher education sector more than doubled in 2020 compared to 2019 adoption levels, according to new research from Tambellini Group.

Tambellini Group found that colleges and universities are turning to cloud computing to aid their modernization efforts, despite tight budget constraints and uncertainty over the future direction of higher education.

The report specifically zeroes in on higher education selecting cloud-based financial management and human capital management systems during their modernization efforts. Measuring the number of selections in higher ed directly points to what universities are prioritizing in an era of shrinking budgets.

“Selecting and implementing new cloud-based core administrative systems is time-intensive, high-impact, and costly, and the uptick in selections shows how central technology investments are to helping institutions adapt to the evolving demands in the higher education market,” said Dr. Michael Russell, president of the Higher Education User Group.

In 2020, financial management systems selections rose by 40 percent over 2019, and selections for human capital management systems increased by 45 percent. Comparing selection rate increases from 2018 to 2019,  selection rates rose by 20 percent in finance and 17 percent in human capital management systems. This dramatic increase over 2018/2019 levels is, in part, attributed to an increase in telework among university staff and distance learning.

In terms of how much schools are spending on financial management and human capital management systems, Tambellini Group said that institutions can spend anywhere from $30-100 million on a project for a large research university, while a small institution can spend more than $5 million on a project in the first five years of implementation.

“After a year of rapid change driven by necessity, higher education institutions have reached a critical crossroads: they can revert to business as usual or embrace the new reality,” said Vicki Tambellini, Tambellini Group’s CEO and founder. “Our report’s findings are encouraging because they show that many are seizing the opportunity to proactively improve and future-proof their institutions by committing to multi-year projects to modernize their core administrative systems.”

Looking to the future, Tambellini predicts that by 2024 the percentage of large institutions adopting cloud-based finance and human capital management systems will more than double. The projected growth rate is even higher for mid-size and small institutions, which Tambellini said will triple the adoption of cloud-based finance and human capital management systems by 2024.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs