Overall Australian education standards, revenue from Higher Education institutions and ICT-enabled spending for education have been slipping, particularly in comparison to other developed global economies and a number of key East Asian countries including China, Korea and Singapore, according to research group IDC.
IDC Government Insights' research found that 35% of all Australian education institutions are operating with reduced ICT budgets in 2013, compared to 2012. This is expected to continue into 2014.
According to the research, there is a great deal of focus on educational outcomes for political reasons. However, very little is publicly focused on the role that ICT has to play for critical sector-wide transformations. IDC Government Insights' surveys found that education initiations are planning to implement higher bandwidth broadband, social networking technologies, mobility, and videoconferencing that can come together to create cutting-edge educational experiences. However such initiatives have not been clearly mapped out yet.
Gerald Wang, Research Manager, IDC Government Insights Asia/Pacific, explains that a climate of very high expectations relating to immediate return-on-investments, coupled with tight budgetary environments means that Australia's Education Sector is heavily stressed to deliver improved education services while being expected to do more with less.
“However, chasing productivity for productivity sake is pointless without clear long-term strategic outcomes that deliver tangible socio-economic values. Smart Education Initiatives may provide not only alternative pockets of funding but also help justify a more aligned approach towards matching the business of education and critical ICT investments for continued sector relevance," Wang warns.
Emilie Ditton, Head, A/P Vertical Markets, IDC Australia, adds that education spending and investment, while always highly politicized, is receiving a great deal of focus in Australia in 2014 as a consequence of the downward trajectory of outcomes, particularly in the K-12 segment.
“However, the conversation in Australia still has not extended to how technology in education can be part of an integrated strategy for improving those outcomes as well as driving administrative efficiencies. Declining budgets are not an excuse for not working to integrate technology solutions within traditional education strategies," says Ditton.