The IT Leadership Workforce in Higher Education, 2024

The IT Leadership Workforce in Higher Education, 2024


Nearly four years out from a global pandemic that almost overnight completely reshaped how we think about the nature of our work and of ourselves as employees, much about our workplaces has seemingly returned to some semblance of normal. Many of us have returned to the office. On-site meetings and events are happening again, and without masks.

In higher education, workplace conversations have evolved from "Will we ever go back to campus?" to "Should we go back to campus?" to "Will we still work from home sometimes?" IT and technology leaders are enjoying the luxury of once again worrying more about emerging new technologies like generative AI than about COVID testing and migrating entire institutions online.

Much of the work technology in higher education seems to be the same as it ever was, once again.

Yet despite some of this "resettling," many of today's questions surrounding our work feel fresh and unlike so many of the questions we've had to navigate before. The pandemic laid bare our need for humanity and flexibility in our work, and many of us desire to somehow sustain a more human and more flexible workplace.

Many institutions are still struggling to recover from the financial and staffing losses of the past several years, leaving leaders with impossible challenges in rebuilding, nurturing, and growing their teams.

And, yes, the emergence of generative AI, along with the acceleration of data and analytics practices in higher education generally, is both introducing new possibilities for how we can accomplish our work and raising concerns around the risks of adopting these new technologies and practices.

In the middle of it all, we as professionals must discover together what organizational structures, professional practices, and skills and competencies we're going to need in order to thrive and succeed in whatever this evolution of higher education taking shape in front of us turns out to be.

This report, based on the survey responses of more than 400 higher education IT and technology leaders,1 aims to map the current contours of the higher education IT and technology leader workforce, understand its current challenges and opportunities, and reflect on what it all might mean for building a stronger workforce and, ultimately, a stronger higher education for the future.

Key Findings

Roles and Organization

  • Most IT and technology leaders (82%) are happy with their current reporting structure, a factor that correlates positively with most measures of job satisfaction.
  • Senior-level leaders report an average of nine different areas of responsibility in their role, compared with an average of five among director-level leaders.
  • Compared with leaders from larger institutions (8,000 or more students), leaders from smaller institutions (fewer than 4,000 students) are more likely to report having eliminated positions in key areas and taking on a higher average number of areas of responsibility.

Challenges and Opportunities of Staffing

  • Just over a third of IT and technology leaders report being able to create new positions (36%), while more than half report being able to successfully hire into existing positions (56%) and retain staff (66%).
  • Only 37% of respondents report a decreased budget over the past 12 months, down from 63% in an EDUCAUSE QuickPoll conducted in October 2020.
  • Among leaders experiencing staffing issues at their institution, a majority report that those issues are negatively impacting their department or unit's work (61%). These leaders are also more likely to experience burnout and to apply to other positions in the coming year.

Work Satisfaction and Well-Being

  • IT and technology leaders are generally satisfied with most aspects of their jobs, particularly with their peers and colleagues (81%) and workplace flexibility and autonomy (80%).
  • Workplace flexibility and autonomy, and mobility and growth opportunities, are the two areas of job satisfaction most strongly correlated with respondents' intentions to apply or not apply to other positions in the next year.
  • Female leaders are significantly more likely than male leaders to report that remote options are important for their work and are more likely to report having experienced burnout in the past 12 months.

Professional Development

  • Respondents selected leadership and communication as the two most important areas of competency, in terms of both current proficiency (79% and 60%, respectively) and future career needs (78% and 67%, respectively).
  • Change management shows the most potential for future growth as a competency, with 47% of respondents selecting it as an important competency for the future, compared with 28% of respondents reporting current proficiency in this area.

Learn More

Access additional materials on the IT Leadership Workforce hub.

EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association and the largest community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. Technology, IT roles and responsibilities, and higher education are dynamically changing. Formed in 1998, EDUCAUSE supports those who lead, manage, and use information technology to anticipate and adapt to these changes, advancing strategic IT decision-making at every level within higher education. EDUCAUSE is a global nonprofit organization whose members include US and international higher education institutions, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and K–12 institutions. With a community of more than 99,000 individuals at member organizations located around the world, EDUCAUSE encourages diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation. For more information, please visit


© 2024 EDUCAUSE. The content of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Citation for this work
Mark McCormack. The IT Leadership Workforce in Higher Education, 2024. Research report. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, March 2024.


  1. The findings in this report are based on responses to a survey that was distributed in October and November of 2023 to IT and technology professionals working in higher education. Of the 873 complete responses we received, 411 were from "IT leaders," professionals working at the director level or higher within their institution. This report focuses exclusively on the responses from these 411 individuals.