Business Focus is a weekly column providing at-a-glance statistics and commentary on spending priorities and trends in particular sectors. This week we look at the education sector.
Spending on IT in the education sector is very low in comparison with the cross-industry UK average. Smaller educational establishments spend an average of £915 per desktop, compared with a UK-wide average of £3,132 among small and medium-sized enterprises. Larger educational institutions spend an average of £1,839, compared with £8,455 across all industries.
The numbers may come as a surprise to some, given the various initiatives to improve IT use in schools and the growth in e-learning at a vocational and professional level.
A report by Becta, the government agency in charge of education and vocational training, estimated that the cost of upgrading every school IT desktop in the UK could be as much as £160m.
However, the uniformity of requirements across the country does mean that the sector is able to benefit from competitive centralised agreements with software and hardware suppliers.
Despite the lure of open source software, Becta said it was committed to a licensing agreement it has with Microsoft, which gives schools discounts on much of its software.
Becta said the licensing agreement establishes significant savings for those schools across the UK that use Microsoft products.
"Depending on the mix of products purchased, schools should be spending between 20% and 37% less than might have been expected in the absence of the Becta Microsoft Memorandum of Understanding," it said.
The analysis is based on Computer Weekly's database of more than 60,000 IT budget holders, twice yearly user IT expenditure surveys, CBI/Kew senior executive surveys, government surveys, government demographic data, HM Treasury economic forecasts and Cambridge Econometrics industry sector forecasts.