Despite Barriers, University Leaders Doubling Down on Analytics Investments

While financial and cultural barriers exist, one in five plan to double their analytics budget over the next year and a half

RESTON, Va.--()--Ellucian, the leading provider of software and services built to power higher education, today published the findings of a survey of 200 institutional leaders, titled: “What Will It Take to Build an Analytics-Driven Campus?

“Presidents, provosts and C-level leaders in higher education told us that institutional analytics are a priority,” said Ellucian Senior Vice President of Product Management, James Willey. “Despite the challenges that come with breaking down data siloes, these leaders are committed to improving operational efficiency for students, faculty and staff.”

Analytics is a priority on campus

Higher education leaders understand the increasing need for analytics programs on campus. 61 percent of respondents have an analytics program at their institution today and only 1 percent do not have and are not considering an analytics program.

Most institutions that have an analytics program have enterprise programs (59 percent) rather than departmental programs. Four-year institutions are even more likely to have an enterprise analytics program when compared to two-year institutions (63 percent vs. 53 percent).

Perceived barriers are similar across most leadership roles

Presidents, CFOs and CIO/CTOs were evenly split on whether financial, cultural or technical barriers were the biggest obstacle to implementation, while provosts cited financial barriers (64 percent) as the most difficult to overcome.

Respondents cited high implementation costs (83 percent) and unclear return on investment (61 percent) as top barriers to analytics adoption. Nearly half said that unwillingness to share data across departments and colleges was the most significant roadblock to implementing an analytics program.

Leaders divided over how much is enough

While analytics is a priority, college leaders are divided on their priorities for the analytics program—presidents, CIOs and CFOs cited improved learning outcomes, provosts cited improved retention and completion and CTOs cited improved operational efficiency. Leaders are also divided on whether their institutions are currently investing the appropriate amount in analytics.

Despite the lack of agreement on whether their institutions are investing the appropriate amount now, many leaders are looking to invest more heavily in analytics in the future: one in five said they plan to at least double their analytics budget in the next 12-18 months.

Industry implications

Most higher education institutions have already begun investing in analytics programs or plan to do so in the next few years, but college leaders need to overcome cultural barriers that hinder implementation campus-wide for those analytics programs to fulfill their promise to improve both institutional and learning outcomes.

“Enterprise analytics programs must address the differing priorities of campus leaders to be valuable,” said Willey. “From reports that track retention and completion data, to metrics on operational efficiency, and early warning systems to improve learning outcomes, colleges that address issues across departments and functions can successfully build an analytics-driven campus.”

To learn more, read the full survey report.

About the Survey

The Analytics Survey was managed by Ovum via phone among 200 higher education leaders between January and March 2018. Quotas were used to ensure representative and statistically significant numbers of administrators by title, four- vs. two-year, and public vs. private institutions. The margin for error for results is +/- 3%.

About Ellucian

Ellucian is the world’s leading provider of software and services that power the essential work of colleges and universities. More than 2,500 institutions in 50+ countries rely on Ellucian to enhance operations and enrich the student experience for nearly 20 million students. Visit Ellucian at


Ali Robinson
Director, Public Relations


Ali Robinson
Director, Public Relations