Over a third of the country's educational institutions were operating with reduced ICT budgets in 2013, according to figures from the latest report by an analysts IDC, Australia Education ICT Market 2012-2017. The firm expects this trend to continue in 2014.
IDC said overall education standards, revenue from tertiary institutions and ICT-enabled spending for education have been slipping. Compared to other developed countries and especially a number of key East Asian countries (China, Korea and Singapore), Australia is lagging behind.
The study found a lack of focus on ICT-enabled program execution discussions. IDC said there is a great deal of focus on educational outcomes for political reasons. However, little is publicly focused on the role that ICT has to play for critical sector-wide transformations according to the firm.
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, IDC said such initiatives have not been clearly mapped out yet.
IDC research manager government insights Asia/Pacific, Gerald Wang, said there was a climate of very high expectations relating to immediate return on investments.
"Coupled with tight budgetary environments [this] 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."
The Education sector is the country's fourth largest export. In 2012-13, education services for international students brought in almost $A15 billion in export revenues. IDC said the sector requires serious transformation attention.
Since its peak in 2009, the number of international students coming to Australia has decreased significantly. the firm said this is due mainly to the high price of the Dollar, increased living costs and stronger competition from other countries. IDC also pointed to disruptive sector forces from massive online open courses (MOOCs) as a cause of the drop.
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