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Higher Education IT Trends

Stay current on higher education IT topics and technology considerations for empowering faculty, supporting student success, and enabling innovation.

Higher Ed IT Trends

  • IT plays an increasingly vital role in higher education, supporting student success and digital efficiencies.

  • Modern technology helps attract and retain students who want to pursue compute-intensive academic fields and activities.

  • Universities face significant challenges in maintaining data privacy, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance.

  • PCs with integrated, hardware-based security can help defend school data from advanced cyberattacks at the firmware, hardware, application, and data layers.



Challenges to IT in Higher Education

Higher education IT solutions have matured in recent years, partly due to widespread adoption of remote and hybrid learning models, cloud computing, streaming services, AI, and advanced security and compliance solutions. The broad and deep changes have challenged higher ed IT leaders to leverage advanced technologies that support innovation, promote student success, and enable unique learning experiences while maintaining the highest standards of data privacy and security. An institution’s technology infrastructure also now plays a role in helping to attract and retain students. Colleges and universities with outdated or inadequate equipment may be passed over by prospective students who seek the right technologies to support their academic goals and extracurricular interests, such as esports.

The role of IT has grown according to Educause, a publication for higher ed IT professionals. In its 2023 roundup of top IT issues, Educause asserted that “technology fuels just about everything an institution needs to do, and as a result, the insights and guidance of a technology leader should help fuel institutional strategy.”1

The role of higher ed IT leaders must also expand to accommodate a more strategic focus, as “IT staff need to help manage the business and further the missions, in addition to running the systems,”1 Educause reported.

Digital Transformation in Higher Ed

Digital transformation, typically considered an enterprise IT trend, has grown increasingly visible and important in higher education in recent years. The shift affects all aspects of the institution’s culture, workforce, interaction with students, and technology infrastructure and deployment.

IT leaders in higher ed can help their institutions achieve their strategic objectives by harnessing the latest technologies, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and advanced networking.

“The ultimate aim [of digital transformation] is an institution with a technology-enabled, sustainable business model that has redefined ‘the campus,’ operates efficiently, and anticipates and addresses major new risks. … No institution can be successful and sustainable without placing students’ success at the center, which includes understanding how and why to equitably incorporate technology into learning and the student experience.”2

Educause, “Top 10 IT Issues 2022”

On the academic front, digital transformation enables a variety of student experiences online and in the classroom, turning the combined environments into a digital campus. These and other services make higher education accessible to a broader population of students, faculty, and staff and fuel the future success of the institution.

Technology also adds digital efficiencies to the business and administrative functions of higher ed institutions. Every process and program, from admission through course selection, academic guidance, and career counseling, can be assisted by AI, data analytics, virtualization, and a host of other application types.

Data Privacy, Security, and Compliance

Cybersecurity is crucial in any large enterprise, including educational institutions. Colleges and universities, like most large organizations, manage a large amount of data assets, including intellectual property and financial information. The risk of a cyberattack can be even more critical at academic institutions, as a data breach can compromise the personal safety and security of faculty members, administrators, students, donors, and others, so protecting their confidential information is a vital function for higher ed IT teams.

Further, educational institutions are subject to data privacy regulations—including the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the US—that govern the security of personal identifiable information and other sensitive data. Some universities and research facilities also work closely with governmental agencies, which impose additional regulatory requirements.

Higher ed IT leaders also face additional security challenges associated with networked devices, especially personal devices that are used by faculty and students. Personal devices are typically the weakest link in any network security infrastructure. With the soaring popularity of remote learning, IT teams must adopt more-robust strategies for securing endpoints to protect against breaches by malicious or unauthorized users.

According to Emerald Publishing, universities worldwide are exposed to three types of cyberthreats: loss of confidential data, loss of data integrity, and loss of access or availability.

Users are the weak links in the security infrastructure because of weak or shared passwords, infrequent updates, or sharing sensitive data on the network with unsecured personal devices.

IT decision-makers can strengthen security and data privacy solutions by selecting end user devices with hardware-enabled security capabilities built into the silicon itself to provide protection from cyberattacks at all layers of the technology stack and help reduce the overall attack surface.

Hardware-enabled security protection augments software-based security to create a comprehensive security approach that can detect and prevent a greater range of cyberthreats. Intel’s multilayered approach to security extends to all CPU product lines. Endpoint devices based on the Intel vPro® platform include Intel® Hardware Shield, a set of integrated hardware-based security features that help improve overall security with advanced threat protections, application and data protections, and below-the-OS security. Intel® Hardware Shield provides hardware-to-software visibility and memory lockdown features to prevent malicious code injection.

Additionally, Intel® Threat Detection Technology (Intel® TDT), a unique feature of the Intel vPro® platform, delivers integrated deep defense protection at the application, data, and firmware levels.

IT managers can help to improve network security and reduce the vulnerability of endpoint devices by specifying enterprise-class PCs, such as those based on the Intel vPro® platform, as the standard for all students, faculty, and staff.

Read additional Intel-provided guidance on selecting devices and higher ed tech to support your institution’s needs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Higher Education

AI is quickly becoming pervasive in all areas of higher education, offering many positive opportunities and some challenges to students, faculty, and IT teams.

Not only are students learning AI technical skills for future careers, but AI is also being applied to help improve teaching and learning, create enhanced educational experiences, streamline processes, and accelerate academic research. Additionally, AI is becoming an integral component of popular applications and tools being used by everyone across campus and in daily life.

AI is an incredibly powerful technology and is being applied in many positive ways. However, some uses of AI can pose ethical risks. Protecting personal and proprietary data while supporting emerging uses of AI is a top concern of higher ed IT departments. As newer AI tools like generative AI and natural language processing (NLP) continue to grow in popularity, students will also need help to better understand AI-based technologies and their outputs to guide their ethical and responsible use. According to a survey conducted by, 60 percent of college students reported that they were not given guidance on the responsible use of AI tools by instructors or schools.3

At Intel, we’re committed to the ethical application of AI and responsible advancement of and open access to the technology, working in collaboration with academia, industry, government, and others. We are actively building AI and AI-enabling technologies into our platform and have a technology portfolio that can support AI initiatives of all sizes. We also offer a range of course content and student programs to help advance AI in higher education.

To learn how AI is reshaping higher education and which technologies can best support any current and future AI initiatives at your institution, refer to the article on AI in Higher Education.

Hybrid Learning

Many institutions have accelerated adoption of a range of technologies to support hybrid learning as well as remote work for faculty and staff, including IT professionals.

According to the Educause 2023 Higher Education Trend Watch report, components of the hybrid strategy being adopted include an expanded reliance on cloud-based services, deployment of virtual private networks, increased videoconferencing and collaborative online tools, and an ongoing shift from desktop PCs to laptops and tablets.4

Hybrid learning and work also benefit from voice over IP (VoIP) communications systems, peripheral equipment such as headsets and cameras, and high-resolution monitors in classrooms and lecture halls so remote students can join their on-premises peers for interactive sessions.

All of these, and the effectiveness of hybrid learning, rely heavily on high-performance endpoint devices and access to a stable, reliable, and secure high-bandwidth network.

Online and hybrid learning modes are completely dependent on the network. Data privacy, security, and compliance are also heavily dependent on the network, especially with adoption of cloud-enabled applications and technologies.

As these and other demands on network resources continue to grow in scope and complexity, higher ed IT departments must be prepared to expand and scale network infrastructure, security, and storage to accommodate the enormous—and growing—need for bandwidth and performance.

Enabling Future Success

Higher education IT teams will need secure, performant, scalable, and easily manageable technologies to continue to enable student and institutional success in today’s increasingly digital academic environment and evolving technological landscape.

IT leaders can play a pivotal role in guiding their higher ed institutions to invest in infrastructure and devices that support long-term strategies and best practices.

Intel continues to work closely with its education technology ecosystem partners as well as technical decision-makers, educators, and researchers in colleges and universities worldwide to deliver solutions that serve higher ed institutions now and in the future.

Learn more about additional resources Intel offers to support higher education institutions.

  • Higher Education Technology: Inform your next large-scale device purchase with recommendations and insights on selecting devices that fit the needs of students, faculty, and IT staff.
  • Classroom-Ready Intel® Academic Courses for Software Development: Educators can leverage classroom-ready teaching kits to help expedite course design and development with lesson plans, videos, hands-on labs, and more. Each Intel® Academic Program focuses on a specific area of computing, including oneAPI-enabled models, AI for edge and IoT, or FPGA programming.
  • Intel for Education: Discover Intel® technologies, tools, and teaching and learning resources to help you maximize learning outcomes.