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Looking Ahead to the Top Higher Ed IT Issues of 2021

In a typical year, the EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT Issues list would be exactly that: a list of the 10 most pressing issues expected to affect higher education over the course of the coming year.

But 2020 has not been a typical year — and 2021 seems likely to follow suit. So, when it came time to compile next year’s list, the EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel had a much more complex undertaking than in years past. After all, how do you forecast a year’s worth of priorities when no one can reliably predict what tomorrow holds?

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all learned a different way to plan,” said Susan Grajek, vice president of partnerships, communities and research at EDUCAUSE, during the organization’s annual conference in October. “We’ve learned the futility of making long-term plans to mitigate a disease that’s still poorly understood. We’ve also learned about how useful scenarios can be when we’re faced with uncertainty. Scenarios can help us plan for alternative futures.”

Higher education, Grajek explained, is facing multiple possible futures and scenarios, each with its own complex challenges and priorities. Recognizing this, EDUCAUSE’s expert panel realized that one list of top IT issues would not suffice.

So, this year, they created three lists instead.