While universities offer different programs to attract students, the technology infrastructure necessary to deliver them is often the same. That led Colorado State University, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of Michigan to join forces.
The schools created a consortium called Unizin to negotiate contracts with technology vendors for products and services they purchase individually. Schools are currently paying millions to build and buy systems for storing and managing digital content, but Unizin is designed to allow its members to purchase a set of services in an effort to create a common infrastructure.
“Right now, that stuff is going into digital shoeboxes, one campus at a time,” Bradley C. Wheeler, vice president for information technology at Indiana, told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The goal of Unizin is to allow member institutions to share data and learning materials through the common infrastructure without losing control of student data or intellectual property. The effort follows a 2013 position paper from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation that suggested institutions needed a better way to make smart technology decisions.
“It’s not about owning everything,” Wheeler said. “It’s about owning the rights to make choices that are in the interest of universities.”