Young technophiles' demands will cost universities

The entry of technologically-savvy teenagers into tomorrow’s workplace could cost UK education sector £150 million claims a report into 2008’s teenage techies.

Sponsored by Logicalis, 'The Realtime Generation: how UK 13-17-year-olds are coping in a digital, dangerous, and dynamic world', aims to uncover how this age group is utilising technology, and how they are evolving their lives to cope with opportunities to engage with, and through, work and social communications and information tools.

The Realtime Generation expects and demands the availability of mobile gadgets and the latest social technologies in order to best communicate, study, and work: businesses and education establishments will therefore need to consider multi-channel communication policies that support the use of formal and informal practices, the report asserts.

"Just as 'UK plc' is bracing itself for the financial impact of post-graduates that expect the latest and greatest gadgets and mobile access technologies, so should universities,” says Chris Gabriel, solutions and marketing director for Logicalis.

The 2008 survey of 1004 respondents uncovered that this generation will consider technology, and the availability of technology services, a key differentiator when selecting prospective universities. Of the students surveyed, 46 per cent will expect their university to provide a PC for the duration of their undergraduate tenure, or own outright - at a cost of over £150 million per annum, or £300 per student, to the university sector.

"Universities that want to lure the best students will need to invest heavily to implement an IT infrastructure that will meet the expectations of this group, and maintain their competitive edge in the race for securing higher student intake,” Logicalis’ Chris Gabriel adds. “To meet this £150m price tag, it is inevitable that universities will be looking to the government, UK plc, and possibly students, to pay."

Of concern to the British economy though, the report warns, is that while the increasingly Realtime Generation is keen to consume new technologies and communication methods, it shows little interest in developing the next generation of innovative gadgets and services. Just 11 per cent of respondents are planning to study sciences, compared to 31 per cent opting for media courses. In contrast, but encouragingly, when asked about their career aspirations, 47 per cent would consider a profession in IT.

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