The IR Budget

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) conducted a survey in April 2014 to determine institutions’ use of business intelligence (BI), the IR budget, and the responsibility of the IR office to purchase BI software.

The Changing IR BudgetBudgetRise2.jpg

We asked respondents to anticipate how their IR offices’ budgets will change over the next three years; the responses were very different by sector:

  • All Respondents: We found that 46% of respondents expect no change in their budgets, and 32% expect their budgets to expand over the next three years.
  • Public Four-Year Institutions: Disaggregating by U.S. sector, we found that more than half of respondents from public four-year institutions believe their budgets will stay the same, and 28% anticipate expansion of their budgets over the next three years.
  • Public Two-Year Institutions: More than 90% of respondents from public two-year institutions in the U.S. anticipate their budgets will stay the same or expand over the next three years.
  • Private Four-Year, Not-for-Profit Institutions: Half of respondents from private four-year, not-for-profit institutions in the U.S. expect their budgets to shrink over the next three years.
Analytical Software Purchases

We asked respondents to approximate the amount of money spent annually by their IR offices on analytical software tools. The largest segment, 42%, noted that less than $1,000 is spent annually by their IR offices, and 33% of respondents said their IR offices spend between $1,000 and $5,000 annually. The remaining 25% of respondents reported that their offices spend $5,000 or more annually.

Next, we asked respondents whether analytical software expenditures come out of IR offices’ budgets. Nearly one-third (31%) said “no,” 54% indicated “some,” and 15% reported that all expenditures come from IR office budgets.

How do these findings about IR and its changing role resonate with your work? Share your thoughts and comments below.

This report is the fourth in a four-part series of the impact of business intelligence on institutional research. The first article, IR and Key Performance Indicators: An Essential Relationship, was featured in the June 2014 issue of eAIR. The second article, Business Intelligence Software: Feedback from IR Professionals, was featured in the August 2014 issue of eAIR. The third article, Business Intelligence: The Changing Role of the IR Professional, was featured in the October 2014 issue of eAIR.




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Total Comments: 4
Felice posted on 11/14/2014 11:01 AM
This perspective interests me - I find myself wondering if there is a correlation between money spent on analytical software tools and the one-person IR office - if you are running an IR office without other staff, do you tend to spend more money on the support resources? or am I leaping to an erroneous conclusion?
Ishuan posted on 11/14/2014 2:30 PM
The response from Private Four-Year institutions comes as no surprise. It seems to me that the "analytics/business intelligence/big data" tidal wave that is sweeping across businesses is coming to higher ed: free software such as R makes performing "analytics" cheaper. My concern is that higher ed institutions now expect IR professionals to lower cost and increase productivity without the accompanying funding for training and development.
Lisa posted on 11/18/2014 11:13 AM
To respond to Felice's comment, I'm in a one-person IR office at a public, two-year institution. Our IT office generally takes care of institutional software purchases. We're at the point where there is not much time for actual "research;" much time is spent in completing regular reports, which have been growing in number each year. We use reporting software and Excel, which are invaluable, but not much additional analytical software at this point. If I had even one more staff member, I would advocate for purchasing more tools; we would then have time to really delve into research projects. In the absence of another staff member, I am trying to reconfigure my current workload to do more research. Regarding this article, it resonates with me. I do anticipate having an expanded budget over the next several years, and likely more staff, due to the increasing national focus on accountability reporting.
Lynn posted on 11/19/2014 8:42 PM
I've found myself wondering what type of tools an IR office can get for $1000-$5000 per year. As Lisa said, so much time goes into preparing reports, many of which ask for the same data in slightly different ways, that there is little time for research. We would love to have an analytics tool that could assist with data mining.