Technology and Budgeting Programs in Education

Introduction

The emergence of technology has revolutionized many aspects of the day-to-day activities at both personal and institutional levels. Computer technologies have found many applications in the communication sector, financial management, and other complex areas that are important in making processes and activities more effective and efficient. Some the areas where technology has found relevance and application include the education sector where it has been applied in both learning and administrative activities. Currently, many educational institutions have invested in technology to support different areas of running the institutions, including enterprise support, differentiated learning, 21st century tools, anytime/anywhere access, and assessment tools. Many schools, both in K-12 and K-20 programs, have increased their efforts towards the achievement of total technology integration in the various areas of their application (Kehm & Teichler, 2007). However, the progress has been slow due to the increased costs of these technologies, amid budgetary cuts towards enterprise support. One of the main areas that have received a lot of commentary and interest from researchers, educationists, and stakeholders in the education sector is the use of technology for budgeting and financial management. This increased interest is evident, especially in higher education institutions where technology has been extensively applied in financial and resource management (Tabata & Johnsrud, 2008). This paper reviews various articles that have discussed the role of technology in budgeting, planning, and resource allocation in higher education institutions. Further, the paper discusses the impact of such technologies on the efficiency and effectiveness of education institutions in improving students’ learning experiences.

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Technology’s Role in aiding Educational Institutions to Manage Funding

Education plays an important role in the economy of any country, especially in providing skilled labor to support essential aspects of the financial system. The budgetary allocation for education in many countries is a major component of the nation’s overall budget, which is a clear indication of the critical role that education plays. For instance, the US education budget of USD$130billion is one of the highest figures in the world. Further, higher education institutions receive more than USD$500billion from their students and other financial sources to run different activities that are relevant for education (Odden & Picus, 2008). As such, financial planning, budgeting, and management are important segments of higher education institutions to ensure that allocation and management of resources are done to the best interest of the institution.

In his paper, Hoecht (2006) asserts that large financial resources that are at the disposal of higher education institutions require the best financial management skills due to the vastness of the institutions and the diverse areas of priority that must be considered. Therefore, financial management technologies play an important since they allow ease of appropriation of funds to cover different projects and activities in the institution (Chen, Yang, & Shiau, 2006). Further, financial management technology allows an organization to track all financial resources that are coming to the institution through student fees, government allocation, grants, and enterprise activities that the institution may be involved. By pooling the finances to a centralized financial management system, higher education institutions ensure no duplication of projects, double allocation, and misappropriations that are common in institutions where technology has not been well adopted in the financial management.

On the other hand, Kehm and Teichler (2007) assert that the use of technology is a critical part of the 21st century education institution, especially in the management of financial resources. Before the advent of financial management technologies, accountability was a major issue. Further, record keeping and tracking meant that reconciling the financial resources was a difficult task. However, with a click of a button, an institution can retrieve and trace the needed financial information. It has also allowed institutions to have increased accountability, which has been lacking to the extent of attracting the misuse or misappropriation of the funds. Such a situation has led to project stagnation, poor services to students, and bad relations with financiers (Tabata & Johnsrud, 2008). Financial management technologies have become very central in terms of budgeting, planning, and resource allocation in higher education institutions. As the institutions grow, it is important for them to continue with technology incorporation in the management of finances (Hoecht, 2006). Consequently, the role of technology in higher education cannot be ignored. Technology is a central factor in improved effectiveness and accountability in the administration of the institutions.

Efficiency and Effectiveness of Educational Institutions in Improving Student Learning

The role of education systems is to create literacy in the society. Such systems also impart skills that are crucial in the lives of individuals and the economy of a nation. Without students, education will be irrelevant. Consequently, all programs that are carried by such institutions must be geared directly or indirectly towards the improvement of student welfare. Therefore, it is important to question the relevance of technology in financial management and its connection with students’ welfare. In other words, how do financial management technologies and budgeting programs contribute towards students’ learning experiences and outcomes?

Firstly, by improving financial accountability, institutions can utilize resources adequately and maximally to various projects that are geared towards students’ welfare (Liang, Saraf, Hu, & Xue, 2007). This strategy is important when such projects directly affect students’ learning activities. Another important impact of the use of technology is that it improves the efficiency of services that are meant for students. With the use of technology, students can easily access their fees and other related financial information from their portals. The strategy effectively reduces the need to visit the finance department physically, thus translating into more time use in learning. According to Odden and Picus (2008), the allocation of financial resources is a critical part of any higher education institution. As such, with technology, the institution can effectively allocate adequate resources such as repairs, amenities, tools, and other important areas that are necessary for students’ learning experiences. Without such technologies, it is difficult to allocate resources to important segments of the institutions. The situation can greatly hinder the learning process at the disadvantage of the students.

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According to Kehm and Teichler (2007), the use of technology can cause a great damage to an institution’s capacity to the delivery good services to its students. If the technology is not well adopted, it can lead to a lost track of finances, misappropriations, and total lack of financial allocation to important segments of the institution, which can adversely affect the students’ welfare (Barr & McClellan, 2010). Further, unscrupulous individuals can erroneously use technology to swindle institutions of their finances. This situation can affect many projects. Therefore, it is important for higher education institutions to take necessary precautions to ensure that the adopted financial management technologies are not only effective but also error free (Lounsbury & Crumley, 2007). To ensure that this goal is achieved, it is important to use tested and proven financial management and budgeting technologies from credible vendors. Such technologies have to suit the financial management needs of the specific institutions. Further, the organizations must often carry out tests for any errors and make updates to ensure that the systems are up-to-date and error free. Keeping obsolete technologies is a recipe for disaster that must be avoided at all times.

Conclusion

The adoption of technologies in numerous segments of the economy and institutional management means that the education sector cannot be left out. As institutions of higher education grow and/or strive to achieve efficiency and accountability, technology for financial management and budgeting is an important aspect. Higher education institutions manage thousands of students and billions of dollars in their finances. Hence, to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, financial management technologies have become very popular. Such technologies play an important role in ensuring accountability and proper appropriation of all financial resources in the institution. The technology allows all segments of the institutions to receive a fair share of financial resources without the risk of being left out. Further, the technologies are very important in improving students’ learning experiences and overall welfare by improving efficiency of services and accountability. However, it is important to exercise caution when implementing such technologies since any errors or loopholes can affect an institution’s ability to track its resources or even lead to loopholes through which money can be misused. Overall, the adoption is an important aspect of the 21st century higher education institutions. Hence, technologies cannot be ignored since their benefits outweigh the disadvantages by a wide margin.

Reference

Barr, J., & McClellan, S. (2010). Budget and Financial Management in Higher Education. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Chen, H., Yang, C., & Shiau, Y. (2006). The application of balanced scorecard in the performance evaluation of higher education. The TQM Magazine, 18(2), 190-205.

Hoecht, A. (2006). Quality assurance in UK Higher Education: Issues of trust, control, professional autonomy and accountability. Higher Education, 51(4), 541-563.

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Kehm, B., & Teichler, U. (2007). Research on internationalization in higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3), 260-273.

Liang, H., Saraf, N., Hu, Q., & Xue, Y. (2007). Assimilation of enterprise systems: the effect of institutional pressures and the mediating role of the top management. MIS Quarterly, 1(1), 59-87.

Lounsbury, M., & Crumley, E. (2007). New Practice creation: An institutional perspective on innovation. Organizational Studies, 28(7), 993-1012.

Odden, R., & Picus, O. (2008). School Finance: A Policy Perspective. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Tabata, L., & Johnsrud, L. (2008). The impact of faculty attitudes toward technology, distance education and innovation. Research in Higher Education, 49(7), 625-646.

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