Governance in Universities

Data Governance in Universities

Nicole Miller Marketing

Considerations for Data Governance  

With more students than ever before learning remotely due to the pandemic, the need for universities to protect the student’s and staff’s information has never been more essential. With the trend of online learning for higher education increasing, primarily because of Covid-19, research shows that the push for online learning continues. A recent study by BestColleges shows that 49% of online college students in the 2020-2021 school year plan to continue enrolling in online courses once campuses return to normal.  

The increase in online learning and the need for electronic information throughout universities has many records managers faced with the challenge of an influx amount of information needed to be stored as well as making sure the data is hygienic or up to date. Regardless of the technology used to keep this information, universities are faced with similar challenges and often turn to a third party to help fill in the gaps. 

Data Governance in Emails

Like many industries, higher education relies heavily on email communication. For governance purposes, emails can either be stored on-premises or in a cloud-based environment. There are the advantages and disadvantages of moving email from an on-premises system to a cloud-based one. For educational institutions running a fully on-premises email environment, the in-house system offers extensive flexibility and control – but the university is 100 percent responsible for its operation and security. As these institutions migrate to cloud-based services, that responsibility becomes shared. Solution providers manage the physical infrastructure, security, and networking. For the university, this means no longer needing to build out data centers or being wholly responsible for setting up network controls. The downside is that institutions may feel limited to the management and compliance tools that the provider supplies. 

To learn more about achieving total governance in your emails, watch this on-demand webinar: Best Practices for Managing Emails as Records.

Data Governance in Microsoft 365

Many universities are using Microsoft 365 with great success from a user perspective. From a compliance standpoint, though, the typical E3 subscription level is limiting for their IT and Compliance departments. In order to maximize their M365 tool, educational institutions would have to pay for the E5 subscription – an additional $100K or more, depending on the number of users/students. 

As a more cost-effective alternative, universities implement third-party compliance tools, such as Gimmal Discover, to fill in the necessary gaps without overextending their budgets. The compliance features of Gimmal Discover are not tied to any particular Microsoft 365 tier. This allows you to bypass the additional costs of upgrading your subscription to the E5 level while enjoying the same full scope of security and compliance features. 

Even at the premium E5 level – which includes full access to the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center – there are areas where the data governance capabilities of the platform fall short. Specialized software such as Gimmal Discover can provide your compliance, risk, and legal teams with supplemental capabilities that extend their data governance oversight of Microsoft 365 content in a few ways. Here are some examples: 

  • Identify and manage content across your environment, including user workstations 
  • Support for additional unstructured content sources 
  • Robust retention policy enforcement 
  • Rapid eDiscovery search and collection with robust search criteria 
  • Search across all content types, including PCI/PII data
  • Custodian legal hold notification
  • Minimize the risk of costly data breaches 

Data Governance in G Suite/Google Workplace

Many Universities utilize G Suite or Google Workplace for day-to-day activity. In early October of 2020, Google rebranded G Suite to Google Workplace which included placing a cap on storage and no longer offering unlimited storage. This rebrand has many Universities losing their unlimited storage. When a University is at the peak or over the storage limit, there are two choices to create more space for additional content that will need to be saved.

  1.  Buy more storage: Although this concept seems self-explanatory. In reality, purchasing additional storage is expensive and can cost the University thousands of dollars. 
  2. Clear out space: Again, a concept that seems simple in theory. However, there is a need to control what stays and what gets deleted. Deleting the wrong content can put your university at risk. Additionally, the process of deleting each individual file can be tedious and time-consuming. 

With Gimmal Discover’s File Analysis tool, you’re able to run a report on the content in your G Suite cloud. This allows for a better analysis of your content, so you can delete data while maintaining compliance. In addition, you will be saving money by preventing an upsell on storage costs.

The Need for Governance in Universities

For all Universities, the priority should be the continued education of their students. When Universities struggle to locate data or can no longer store the information needed, it hinders the efficiency of the university and can, in some circumstances, prevent workflow and learning. With the help of a third party, you can streamline your data governance and improve your efficiency while saving money.

Learn how your peers at Point Park University are achieving information governance while reducing cost in this case study.