New Survey: Pandemic Accelerated Higher Education’s Shift to Cloud Technology

Sponsored by Ellucian, Survey Shows Higher Education Further Embracing IT as a Strategic Function

RESTON, Va., May 26, 2021/PRNewswire/ —A new survey of more than 650 higher education leaders reveals institutions continued to upgrade their technology operations to the cloud during the pandemic – and, in some cases, accelerated their transitions as a result of the crisis. The survey of senior administrators including presidents, chancellors, provosts, CIOS, CFOs and deans was conducted in March 2021 by The Chronicle of Higher Education and sponsored by Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider.

Results highlight how the increased focus on technology as a strategic enabler has amplified the role of chief information officers (CIOs) in the institutional C-suite. Notably, 86% of higher education administrators agreed the pandemic has increased collaboration among campus leaders in their strategic approach to technology adoption, and 75% said they expect this to continue post-pandemic. In addition, 75% said the pandemic has changed their approach to using technology to support critical functions, such as enrollment or recruitment.

Senior leaders overwhelmingly said cloud-computing services have been valuable in responding to institutional needs (96%), which aligns with growth being seen in cloud adoptions industry-wide. While 54.3% of those surveyed reported they are cloud-based today, 63% indicated that cloud service adoption will increase as a result of the past year. Respondents expect 68.6% of applications to be in the cloud in 24 months.

Top areas where cloud services will most benefit college's operations:

  • Online instruction – 76%
  • Student services – 56%
  • Enrollment and admissions management – 52%
  • Adoption of latest technology and functionality – 52%
  • Strategic reallocation of IT staff – 43%
  • Financial management – 33%

"The survey results underscore that despite the pandemic, the higher education community remains committed to serving students with excellence. Recognizing that education is the imperative for global success, we must continue to align human abilities with technology capabilities and embrace digital transformation as a driver of enhanced experience and outcomes," said Stephen Laster, Chief Product Officer, Ellucian.

Despite the unexpected shift to remote learning and campus operations in March of 2020, a majority of technology officers polled (74%) said their institutions' technological capabilities and systems were prepared for the pivot; 75% said they had sufficient knowledge of existing capabilities and systems to make good decisions.

However, senior administrators said they still face challenges in the move toward technology adoption:

  • Budget constraints – 75%
  • Faculty reluctance – 56%
  • Training the community – 49%
  • IT infrastructure – 42%
  • Evaluating outcomes – 35%

The survey also shows ongoing investment in delivering student services, managing enrollment, and interacting with stakeholders including donors and alumni. And, pandemic experiences helped institutions clarify directions for future investment in technology, including cloud solutions and the ongoing faculty and staff training.

For more survey results, visit:


Ellucian is the market leader charting the digital future of higher education with a portfolio of cloud-ready technology solutions and services. From student recruitment to workforce analytics; from fundraising opportunities to alumni engagement; Ellucian's comprehensive suite of data-rich tools gives colleges and universities the information they need to lead with confidence.

Working with a community of more than 2,700 customers in over 50 countries, Ellucian keeps innovating as higher education keeps evolving. Drawing on its comprehensive higher education business acumen and suite of services, Ellucian guides its customers through manageable, sustainable digital transformation—so that every type of institution and student can thrive in today's fast-changing landscape. To find out what's next in higher education solutions and services, visit Ellucian at