Tambellini Group Spotlight


2020 Investments in Student Technology Systems Plunged to Five-Year Low As Higher Education Voices Frustrations with Vendor Options and Delays

Tambellini Report provides exclusive insights into institutional technology priorities culled from data and analysis of cloud technology decision trends for 4,300 US Institutions

Irvington, Virginia — June 15, 2021Widespread disappointment with available options and pandemic-related strains on budget and staff resources drove a 15 percent year-over-year drop in student technology system selections in 2020, marking the fifth consecutive year of declines while institutions face escalating pressures to focus more resources on students and improve the user experience across their digital tools and platforms. 

The findings from Tambellini’s annual 2021 Student System US Higher Education Market Share, Trends, and Leaders Report deviated sharply from the expected 30 percent increase projected before March 2020, when hundreds of institutions were evaluating options to replace their legacy student information systems (SIS).

A large public university can spend more than $100 million on a new student system, and even small institutions can spend at least $5 million in their first five years of implementation.  

A significant majority of institutions—72 percent—have student information systems that are at least 20 years old running on-premises. Technology platforms that are older than a recent high school graduate lack the modern features students of all ages expect: a consistent, user-friendly digital experience with personalized engagement and 24-7 access to a range of services available across multiple access points, including mobile devices.

“Thus far in 2021, there is renewed interest in modern cloud-based platforms as institutions resume and accelerate previously paused plans to improve their technology stack to serve students, faculty and staff and provide a more secure and scalable environment,” says Vicki Tambellini, CEO and Founder of Tambellini Group.

“At the same time, we predict that many institutions will remain hesitant to make large-scale changes due to a lack of fully mature options at competitive prices and ongoing delays from vendors in delivering solutions with the required functionality this market demands.”  

Cloud Adoption in Student Systems

Report data and analysis show that many institutions prefer to make incremental changes to meet immediate and near-term needs instead of starting broad system overhauls.

  • 4.5 percent of institutions have selected modern cloud student systems, but only 26 institutions have gone live with those systems.
  • 24 percent of institutions have migrated their legacy on-premises solutions to the cloud using either managed hosting or SaaS services.

The report is based on Tambellini Group’s unbiased research, extensive interviews, and proprietary data from more than 4,300 US higher education institutions and covers the six vendors serving at least 1 percent of the market in 2020: Anthology, Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle, Workday and Unit 4.

About the Tambellini Group
The Tambellini Group is the leading independent technology research and advisory firm dedicated exclusively to higher education. Tambellini Group members benefit from more than 100 unbiased research reports every year that provide insight and analysis on the changing higher ed technology landscape. With over 20,100 global institutions and more than 84,000 technology selections, the Tambellini Group’s proprietary Education Institution Technology Profile Database® is unparalleled in the industry. Founded in 2001, Tambellini Group is a woman-owned business and a certified Great Places to Work® company for 2021–2022.

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