Sustainability in Higher Education
Sustainability is a key driving force for decision makers in 2023. The need for responsible procurement can be seen on a granular level, affecting the way teams think about deploying technology within their institutions. When higher education organisations are looking to integrate devices into their curriculums, what should they keep in mind if they mean to maintain a sustainable procurement strategy? And how can they put this into practice?
We’ve developed an effective approach to break the idea of sustainability down into three core elements that form a helpful framework when developing a successful procurement strategy.
Sustainable Environmental Impact
The most apparent aspect of any sustainability plan is that of environmental impact. Universities need to do their part to ensure that they are making responsible decisions, just like any other institution with the power to make a difference. This could extend from how the devices used are manufactured and distributed, to the ways in which they are disposed of at the end of their lifecycle. 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2019, stemming from discarded phones, laptops, monitors and other forms of IT hardware.
In 2023, most companies display their stance on environmental conservation clearly. An example of this can be seen from Apple, who have made the commitment to declare themselves carbon neutral by 2030. By extension, any purchase of Apple technology can be made with the knowledge that the devices you and your students are utilising are environmentally conscious, and by taking part in a trade-in programme, your organisation can ensure that devices are responsibly recycled when the time comes to renew.
The concept of sustainability should not be constrained by the idea that it can only relate to environmental impact. Institutions should keep in mind that to call something sustainable is to acknowledge that it can be maintained over a period of time. That’s why it is particularly important to consider the continued sustainability of University budgets and the challenges that may arise when it comes time to refresh your devices.
The pressure to stay ahead of the curve can be relentless. 81% of respondents in a recent survey reported the belief that digital technology will fundamentally change their organisation, and the demand to provide access to premium technology campus-wide is more apparent than ever in order to keep up with peers within the sector. For many institutions, leasing devices is preferable to buying them outright, and if there is the option to trade-in ageing tech at the end of the term for new units, university procurement teams could find themselves saving time as well as money.
The final element that higher education institutions should consider when developing their technology procurement strategy is the partnership that is formed between the institution and their technology provider.
Developing strong long-term partnerships is the only way to guarantee that all of your institutions’ needs are met. The scope of a device deployment is so much bigger than simply supplying the hardware. Every institution has its own needs and goals for their deployment, from seamless integration to continued support and training. Working with a partner that you trust to oversee the entirety of that process is often the result of a relationship that allows that partner a unique insight into your vision for the future to support you in reaching your goals.
Three Steps to Success
Following these three core elements of sustainability could see your higher education institution make decisions to better the future of students as well as internal teams. It is important to consider all aspects of what it means to develop and maintain a truly sustainable procurement strategy, but we hope these three steps provide a useful starting point for those at the beginning of their procurement process.