Education in Australia is and will likely remain a contentious issue into the foreseeable future. In a recent roundtable discussion with experts from Jamf, Frost and Sullivan, Tribal Group and Ricoh, concerns were raised over the fragmented nature of the education sector in Australia and what’s riding on it to remain competitive, relevant and deliver a greater CX in such a highly competitive market.
Education is a multi-billion dollar business in Australia and this country's second largest export. With a rapid, daily change of technology, providing the tools to students and teachers to enable them to compete tomorrow is a big deal. Just how big is education down-under? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2017 it was a $28 billion a year industry having grown an incredible 22 percent over the previous year. With over five million individuals currently enrolled in tertiary courses, there are a lot of customers to serve and differentiation is even more important for institutions seeking competitive advantage.
See the recent Press Release: Secure, Cloud-based Systems and Collaborative Technologies Are Key To Better Outcomes for Schools and Students: Experts
Speaking during a round-table discussion in Sydney on technology trends and cyber-security in Australia’s school, university and vocational education sectors, Mark Dougan, Managing Director at analyst firm, Frost and Sullivan Australia said institutions were increasingly using information and communications technology (ICT) as a differentiator in a market that’s competitive and becoming even more so.
Although organisations across the board are investing and migrating to cloud in order to remain competitive and relevant, Mark Sinclair, ANZ Regional Director at WatchGuard Technologies reports that they are still seeing great uptake in ‘black-boxes’ for on-premise security. Which seems to confirm what other experts are noting with respect to organisations and uptake of cloud and that is organisations are either adopting fully or shifting to hybrid systems signalling a desire to maintain some level of security of proprietary data.
Getting security right is met with the even greater challenge that education tends to be in a more unique space. Bring-your-own-device in tertiary education is common among students and staff and most have their own laptop and mobile phone. Logistically, it comes as no surprise that this creates an even bigger security headache.
Attitudes toward cloud adoption have shifted in the education sector as more institutions are making the move with many looking to hybrid environments.
Peter Croft, APAC Managing Director at student management software vendor, Tribal Group, says schools have not been in the vanguard of new technology adoption, historically. Frontline spending priorities often result in ICT projects being deferred, despite their potential to deliver efficiency gains.
“We’re finally seeing growing awareness among schools that going to the cloud offers significant advantages – doing so can reduce operational costs and remove the complications associated with managing platforms and systems internally.”
“Schools do run as businesses and like any business they have an interest in containing costs, operating as efficiently as they can and delivering value for money to parents and students. We’re seeing a large appetite for data analytics that can help schools understand where they can do things more smartly.”
Right Tools, Right Time
With the current student population in Australia growing by 50,000 per year, supporting teachers, students and organisations is a challenge that’s been taken on by Jamf which provides app management and deployment.
Jamie Davidson, ANZ Regional Sales Manager at Jamf, the management standard for the Apple ecosystem, says the use of mobile technology to deliver rich interactive learning experiences is helping schools and higher education providers differentiate themselves and improve learning outcomes for students.
“We’ve noted growing interest around the use of devices in the classroom, particularly in the STEM subjects in senior years,” Davidson says. “The Australian Government is investing heavily in STEM learning and Jamf believe iPads and the Apple ecosystem is the best way to support teachers and students in the classroom.
“Just purchasing iPads for classes is not going to cut it. Schools need to deploy those iPads with the content, apps and features that best support teachers to run their lessons.
“Schools should look to work with vendors who can help provide teachers with the tools that ensure an engaging, dynamic, well-supported STEM learning experience, globally.”
The business of education in Australia is growing. With new threats always at the threshold, like all Australian businesses, institutions will no doubt be challenged to employ new technologies and solutions in an effort to keep a step ahead of cyber criminals and competitors. As demand increases from parents and students for better services, universities will continue to search for, develop and exploit new strategies to differentiate their offerings to offer a better customer experience.