IT spending growth will be slow in the Western European education sector until at least 2009, industry experts predicted today.
According to a newly published IDC study, education institutions' IT spending will grow very slowly from $9bn in 2004 to just $11.5bn in 2009.
At the beginning of the forecast period, growth in IT spending will be very limited, especially in Italy and Germany, where overall growth between 2004 and 2005 is expected to be below one per cent.
IDC believes that the Western European education sector will continue to suffer because of budget cuts. For instance, the Italian Ministry for Education, University, and Research planned to contribute €184m to the upgrade of IT infrastructures in schools in 2005, but no funds were available.
However, IDC noted that these constraints are not felt to the same extent in every Western European country, thus initiatives are being promoted to build a network of education and community information around students and to include education institutions in national education and research networks.
Mobilisation of access is also found to be an important theme, especially in higher education.
Higher education institutions will grow faster, IDC said. Overall, higher education institutions are expected to grow at 5.7 per cent between 2005 and 2009 because they have a stronger focus on higher value-added systems, such as student management systems and e-learning. Primary and secondary schools will lead the hardware spending growth.
Massimiliano Claps, programme manager for IDC's European vertical markets, said: "IT vendors must provide networking equipment, portals, document management and learning management tools to support the development of e-learning and knowledge management solutions that will help primary and secondary school students to leverage on the connectivity to national education and research networks, such as Janet in the U.K."
IT vendors that want to capture a share of the revenue growth in this difficult market are advised to take advantage of school renovation projects, especially in the UK, and support the connectivity of schools to national education networks.
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