Helping colleges and universities consider sustainability when procuring and using IT

Jisc has published a new guide to help members consider sustainability when making decisions around IT.

The guide has been produced with funding from the Welsh government in collaboration with six* FE and skills providers in Wales, although it is relevant to universities and colleges throughout the UK.

Called Good practice in IT sustainability, the guide covers topics such as: 

  • Procurement 
  • User support 
  • Device choice, maintenance, and management 
  • Energy costs 
  • Printing 
  • Cloud 
  • Security 
  • Equipment disposal, recycling, and reuse 

Examples of good practice include: 

  • Providing loan devices to students and staff, or encouraging them to use their own devices, rather than maintaining static computer rooms 
  • Reducing the need for printing facilities through the use of collaborative platforms such as OneDrive 
  • Ensuring all equipment is turned off - not placed on standby - when not in use 
  • Moving systems from on-premises servers to the cloud, and implementing data retention policies 

It may help institutions to consider the guidance in parallel with Jisc’s report, Exploring digital carbon footprints, which was published in July 2022, and provides insight into how the use of technology can increase carbon emissions.

As well as highlighting the ways in which digital devices can negatively affect the environment, the report also offers recommendations into how this impact can be reduced, leading to cost savings and improvements in operational efficiency, as well as positive environmental outcomes. 

Alyson Nicholson, director of Jisc Wales, whose team collated the new guidance, said:  

“We are grateful to Welsh Government and the FE leaders and colleges across Wales that have taken the time to share their first-hand experiences in developing more sustainable, strategic approaches to the management of and investment in IT and reducing their carbon footprint. 

“We know that rising IT costs are a real concern for FE leaders, with many looking for ways to maximise their technology investments while maintaining the same high standard of teaching and ensuring digital inclusion.  

“We hope that this guide provides readers with helpful insight, and in doing so, sparks a conversation across the sector to encourage collaboration in overcoming these issues.”  

Jisc members wanting further information or support around financial and environmental sustainability through technology should contact their relationship manager

*Neath Port Talbot College, Gower College Swansea, Cardiff and Vale College, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Adult Learning Wales, St. David’s Catholic Sixth Form College.