Our global rankings, particularly in comparison to other developed globaleconomies and a number of key East Asian countries (e.g. China, Korea and Singapore for instance) are falling in key education indicators, according to new research by global market intelligence firm IDC.
IDC Government Insights' research, released in a report "Australia Education ICT Market 2012–2017”, found that our educational institutions are grappling with sustained shrinking ICT budgets, with 35% of all Australian education institutions operating with reduced ICT budgets in 2013, compared to 2012. This is expected to continue into 2014.
The research also found a lack of focus on ICT-enabled program execution discussions. "While there's a great deal of focus on educational outcomes for political reasons, very little is publicly focused on the role that ICT has to play for critical sector-wide transformations," the report says.
IDC Government Insights' surveys also found that education initiations in general are planning to implement higher bandwidth broadband, social networking technologies, mobility, and video conferencing that can come together to create cutting-edge educational experiences.
However, such initiatives have not been clearly mapped out yet; and Australia's 4th largest export, the education sector needs "serious transformation attention"- The number of international students coming to Australia has sharply dropped since the peak in 2009 due to the high value of the Australian dollar, the increased cost of living in Australia, stronger competition from other countries, and disruptive sector forces from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for higher education.
Notably, the international students Education Sector is Australia’s fourth largest export, following iron ore, coal, and gold. In 2012-13, education services for international students generated almost A$15 billion in export revenues.
"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, said Gerald Wang, Research Manager, IDC Government Insights Asia/Pacific.
"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.
"Education spending and investment, while always highly politicized, is a 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," said Emilie Ditton, Head, A/P Vertical Markets, IDC Australia.
"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."