The Future of Print Management in Higher Education 

In recent years, shifting print trends have forced universities to rethink their approach to print management. 

Although print volumes have declined, print is still a basic necessity for students and staff. However, managing print creates conflicting priorities for IT. On one hand, it’s often an afterthought, excluded from robust security protocols. On the other hand, it consumes significant resources and requires ongoing maintenance to function smoothly. 

What can universities do to make sure students can easily print when they need to? How can campuses keep the system running securely 24/7 without bogging down IT? 

The answer, as with many IT challenges today, lies in the cloud. 

Delivering a Seamless Student Experience  

Given the challenges around attracting and retaining students today, providing them with the best experience possible has become a core focus for universities. From a print perspective, this means creating an environment where printing is simple and solves students’ biggest challenges around printing. 

Moving print infrastructure to the cloud provides 24/7 reliability of print services, allowing students to: 

  • Easily connect to the nearest printer from anywhere on campus with any device, without having to download new drivers 
  • Avoid sending jobs to devices needing support, which the system automatically takes offline 
  • Access self-serve support for tasks like changing passcodes and connecting to printers without having to submit a help desk ticket 

Reducing the IT Print Burden 

Print continues to be a persistent challenge for IT departments, requiring significant resources for server maintenance, driver management, and resolving individual printer issues. 

A cloud-based printing solution designed specifically for higher education can cut the time IT departments spend on print in half and deliver significant cost savings from: 

  • Eliminating print servers, saving an average of $7,500 annually per server 
  • Reducing labor hours spent on driver management, server upgrades, and IT help desk tickets 
  • Automatically scanning the network for error codes to find devices that need toner, color or servicing, taking them offline and sending jobs to other nearby printers 

As institutions’ network models evolve towards decentralization or software-based networking, print historically either doesn’t work in those scenarios or has to be the exception case. That’s no longer true with cloud-based printing, as tools like end-to-end encryption bring print in line with security frameworks such as zero-trust. 

Analytics-Driven Efficiency 

Print in higher education is undergoing a shift towards greater efficiency, where IT will have complete visibility into printer performance and status – irrespective of device manufacturer – via web dashboards without having to visit individual devices. All of this will be driven by robust analytics that enable IT teams to: 

  • Get detailed data for drilling down and finding patterns of waste among different devices, users, and groups 
  • Improve device utilization and load balancing, for example by identifying underutilized printers that might be more useful elsewhere 
  • Identify which printers are likely to fail and should be flagged for service or replacement 

Making the Mindset Shift Around Cost Recovery 

Cloud print management is forcing a mindset shift around the traditional cost recovery model in universities. For decades, universities have treated upfront billing for print costs as a revenue stream. 

When they run the numbers, however, they often make an eye-opening discovery: 

The amount they spend on labor, IT and accounting resources to manage the process of reconciling student print accounts far surpasses the costs they recover. 

With the cloud, universities can automatically collect data from print jobs and send it directly to the accounting or bursar’s office. This allows them to recover costs based on what students actually use—which universities need to track regardless—and charge print jobs to specific departments or grants. 

The Future is Here 

As IT infrastructure continues its shift to the cloud, print management in higher education is ripe for transformation. A robust PrintOps platform like Pharos Cloud Education Edition provides the tools universities need to: 

  • Deliver a seamless student experience that makes print easy 
  • Eliminate onsite print infrastructure and server management 
  • Manage fewer drivers by deploying the IPP Everywhere driver 
  • Reduce printing costs through quotas, chargeback, and secure release, plus advanced analytics to find cost-saving opportunities 
  • Create a print environment that supports zero-trust security principles 

Much of how universities used to think about print is starting to go by the wayside. Addressing the challenges of users, administrators, and IT demands a new way of thinking, and print infrastructure aligned with the university’s overall migration strategy. 

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