How Educational Institutions Can Choose the Most Effective Wi-Fi Security Solutions to Protect their Critical Information Assets

Educational institutions have large amounts of critical data at risk like any other organization. Hence, Wi-Fi security and the right solutions are vital for such organizations. This article will examine the importance of Wi-Fi security solutions for educational institutions and explore effective strategies to safeguard their critical data from today’s cyber threats.

Wi-Fi networks have become an integral component of the day-to-day operations of educational institutions, highlighting the critical need for robust security measures to mitigate potential cyber threats. This extensive reliance on technology brings a new set of challenges for IT administrators, as the security of these networks is constantly at risk. Hence, educational institutions must choose the most robust Wi-Fi security solutions to protect their critical information assets.

This article discusses the key considerations when choosing the best Wi-Fi security solutions for educational institutions and the importance of staying ahead regarding security threats.

Critical Information Assets That are at Risk in Higher Education

Educational institutions have a wide range of critical information assets at risk of being compromised in today’s world, which is increasingly digitized. These assets may include student and faculty records, intellectual property, financial data, and other confidential and sensitive information. 

The risks associated with such assets can range from data breaches and identity theft to ransomware and malware attacks. Therefore, educational institutions must proactively protect their critical information assets. That includes implementing robust security measures such as data encryption, secured Wi-Fi connection, firewall protection, and regular security audits.

Wi-Fi Security: Significance for Schools, Colleges, and Universities 

The importance of Wi-Fi security in educational settings should not be underestimated. Wi-Fi has become an essential part of the digital learning environment, and its security is vitally important for the safety of educational institutions like schools, colleges, and universities. These institutions must have strong Wi-Fi security measures to prevent malicious attacks on their networks that could potentially lead to a data breach. 

That is particularly true for universities, which often store sensitive research data on their networks. By implementing robust Wi-Fi security measures, such as authentication, encryption, password policies, and other security policies and procedures, universities can protect their research data and ensure their networks remain safe from malicious activity.

Choosing the Most Effective Wi-Fi Security Solutions: Key Considerations

You will come across many options when selecting the most effective Wi-Fi security solutions. Understanding the following key considerations in the selection process is critical to ensure the most efficient and secure outcome.

Choosing an AI-Driven Solution

One of the more recent options available for Wi-Fi security is using an AI-driven solution. Such a solution can provide many benefits, including improved network performance and enhanced security. AI-driven solutions are specifically designed to detect and prevent malicious activity on a Wi-Fi network. Using machine learning algorithms, these solutions can quickly detect and block malicious activity and provide real-time reporting and alerting of potential threats. 

AI-driven security solutions can integrate automated and intelligent threat detection, analysis, and response capabilities into the security infrastructure. That provides a higher level of protection for Wi-Fi networks by allowing faster and more accurate detection of malicious activity and the ability to respond to potential threats in real time. Furthermore, AI-driven security solutions can continuously learn and adapt to changing network environments, allowing organizations to stay ahead of the latest threats.

Wireless Network Security Protocol

When it comes to wireless network security, choosing an effective and reliable solution is paramount. Different security solutions offer various levels of protection and come with multiple features and capabilities.

The three main types of Wi-Fi security protocols include Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), and Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2). Each option offers different levels of protection and has advantages and disadvantages.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

Wired Equivalent Privacy, commonly known as WEP, is a security protocol used on a Wi-Fi network to provide an encrypted connection between a wireless access point and a client. WEP was first introduced in 1999 but has since been replaced by more secure protocols, such as WPA and WPA2. However, WEP is still commonly used in older Wi-Fi networks or networks with a limited budget.

The encryption protocol used by WEP is based on the RC4 stream cipher. As a result, it is vulnerable to several attacks, such as replay attacks, weak IVs (initialization vectors), and key cracking. These vulnerabilities are amplified when the WEP key is short or weak.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)

Wi-Fi Protected Access, often called WPA, is a security protocol to protect wireless networks from unauthorized access. WPA advances the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol, the original security standard for wireless networks. WPA was created to address the vulnerabilities of WEP and provide a more secure and robust protocol for wireless communications.

WPA uses encryption and authentication to protect communications over a wireless network. The encryption is implemented through TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol), designed to dynamically generate a new encryption key for each data packet transmitted.

Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2)

WPA2 is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11i protocol released in 2004 as an advanced security protocol for wireless networks, replacing the older one. WPA2 provides more security than WPA by employing the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to encrypt data and authentication.

WPA2 also increases the strength of a wireless network by using a longer and more complex key that requires authentication from both the wireless access point and the client.

Selection of a Trusted Solution Provider

Another critical consideration when looking for the most effective Wi-Fi security solutions is to choose a trusted solution provider. It is of paramount importance as the security of the Wi-Fi network will depend on the quality of the solutions provided.

It is vital to ensure that the solutions being used comply with applicable security regulations while providing the necessary levels of protection. Additionally, they should be designed to minimize the risk of malicious attacks and protect data and confidential information. The provider should also have a comprehensive support system to assist in the event of an issue or problem.

Migrating from WPA2 to WPA3, and Why Does it Matter?

WPA3 offers a more secure and reliable Wi-Fi network than the older WPA2 protocol. WPA2 and WPA3 are two widely used security protocols in Wi-Fi network systems. Migrating from WPA2 to WPA3 is increasingly becoming necessary for many organizations.

WPA2 was first introduced in 2004 and is still used by many organizations despite its known vulnerabilities. WPA3, on the other hand, was designed to address these vulnerabilities, as it is based on a more advanced security protocol called Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). This protocol uses more robust encryption algorithms and provides more secure authentication methods than WPA2. WPA3 includes an “Individualized Data Encryption” feature, which provides a unique encryption key for each user, making it even more secure.

Best Practices for Wi-Fi Security in Educational Institutions

The following are the best practices all educational institutions must adopt to ensure the security of their Wi-Fi network and critical data assets.

  • Implement strong password policies and best practices for secure Wi-Fi network usage.
  • Use advanced encryption protocols like WPA2 or WPA3 to secure the institution’s Wi-Fi network.
  • Utilize firewalls and WAF (Web Access Firewall) to protect an institution’s on-premise and cloud infrastructure and create a secure barrier for adversaries.
  • Regularly patch and update existing networks, devices, and operating systems.
  • Use anti-phishing, antivirus, and antimalware software solutions that leverage AI (Artificial Intelligence).
  • Limit access to certain services and sites by leveraging whitelisting and blacklisting to control the ingress and egress traffic.
  • Implement a guest and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) remote access policies, start implementing a zero-trust approach, and limit access to the network from non-school devices.

As educational institutions become increasingly connected and digitalized, they must ensure they have the most secure Wi-Fi and network through efficient security solutions. By selecting the correct security protocols, restrictions, and authentication mechanisms, educational institutions can ensure that critical information and students’ data remain fully protected. Also, risk assessments are vital to ensuring that all possible vulnerabilities are identified and rectified, allowing for a securely connected environment.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at


  1. Efforts Solutions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Smart Wi-Fi. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Efforts Solutions IT website:
  2. Irei, A. & Scarpati, J. (2022, December). Wireless security: WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3 differences. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Networking website:
  3. Kerravala, Z. (2019, March 6). Why Wi-Fi needs artificial intelligence. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Network World website:
  4. Leininger, L. (2022, August 1). 2022 Public Wi-Fi Statistics: How do we use it and is it safe? Retrieved February 16, 2023, from website:
  5. Metzler, S. WPA3: The ultimate guide. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from SecureW2 website:
  6. Security Uncorked. Wi-Fi security: WPA2 vs. WPA3 – security uncorked. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from website:
  7. Mordor Intelligence. Wireless Network Security Market. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from website:
  8. The Best Practices for School Network Security in 2020. Smile Business Products.
  9. Hommel, W., Metzger, S., & Steinke, M. (n.d.). Information Security Risk Management in Higher Education Institutions: From Processes to Operationalization. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from website:

Jason Claybrook

Strategic Consultant and Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP), Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP), Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)

How Higher Education Registrars Benefit from 3rd Party Ellucian Banner and Degree Works

Higher education Registrar Offices play a crucial role in maintaining and updating student records, which include academic, personal, and financial information. With the advancement of technology, most colleges and universities use Ellucian Banner and Degree Works software to manage and store these records. However, managing these systems can be challenging, especially with the increasing complexity of the software. This is where the benefits of having access to a consultant who performs both functional and technical work on Ellucian Banner and Degree Works come into play.

Increased Efficiency

A consultant who is knowledgeable in both the functional and technical aspects of Ellucian Banner and Degree Works can provide Registrar Offices with the support they need to increase their efficiency. They can help streamline processes, automate tasks, and provide guidance on best practices, saving time and reducing errors.

Improved Data Management and Governance

Registrar Offices have access to a vast amount of sensitive and confidential student data. A consultant can assist with data management ensuring that data is stored and processed securely and accurately. They can also assist with data migration and integration, making it easier for Registrar Offices to transfer data from one system to another.   This can expand to include the larger process of data governance to help ensure the quality and reliability of the data.

Enhanced User Experience

Ellucian Banner and Degree Works are complex systems; navigating them can be challenging. A consultant can help Registrar Offices to understand the software better, providing training and support to ensure that users can perform their tasks effectively and efficiently.

Improved Integration

Ellucian Banner and Degree Works integrate with other systems, such as enrollment and financial aid systems. A consultant who is knowledgeable in both functional and technical aspects of the software can assist Registrar Offices with the integration of these systems, ensuring that data is exchanged and processed correctly.

Cost Savings

Hiring a consultant who performs both functional and technical work can save Registrar Offices money in the long run. They can assist with troubleshooting and resolving technical issues, reducing downtime and the need for additional support. They can also provide training and support to ensure that users are able to perform their tasks effectively, reducing the need for external support.

In conclusion, Higher Education Registrar Offices that have access to a consultant who performs both functional and technical work on Ellucian Banner and Degree Works can benefit from increased efficiency, improved data management, enhanced user experience, improved integration, and cost savings. These benefits make it easier for Registrar Offices to manage student records and provide a better experience for students, staff, and faculty.


About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at

Dana Salinas

Banner Team Lead

Staying ahead of the Technology Curve. Why it is Important to Have a Planned Hardware Refresh Cycle

A common challenge in higher education often centers around managing technology lifecycles, which can be crucial. Technology is constantly evolving and improving, and hardware can quickly become outdated. At times, even before it has been installed and put into service. In addition, every capital equipment purchase incurs expense costs regarding support agreements, labor for supporting assets, configuring assets, patches, etc.

Technology departments continually work towards addressing the challenges which include, but are not limited to:

    • Planning changes, upgrades, and budgeting, including depreciation of assets.
    • Management and justification of unplanned cost per incident (i.e., fix on failure) due to asset failure and replacement.
    • Mitigating risk related to security, reliability, performance, usability, obsolescence/maintainability, etc.
    • Addressing audit findings for at-risk assets no longer supported by the vendor.
    • Elevating resource skill sets, knowledge and maintaining technical relevance.

Refreshing technology is of vital importance. The inhibitors to these challenges are often external: IT models driven by departmental projects and CAPEX budgets inherent in a cost center model.

One example of refreshing hardware’s importance is seen in the aviation industry, as outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal article. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a “Notice to Airmen” (NOTAM) warning pilots and airlines about the potential risks of using older navigation hardware. The NOTAM stated that some older navigation hardware might not properly process satellite signals transmitted by the next generation of GPS satellites. This highlights the importance of regularly upgrading and refreshing hardware to stay current with the latest technology and ensure systems function properly.

The higher education market greatly benefits from a managed approach to upgrading and refreshing hardware. With the growing emphasis on technology in classrooms, universities and colleges must ensure that their hardware is up to date to provide students with the best possible learning experience. This includes upgrading and refreshing equipment such as computer labs, classrooms, and lecture halls. Obsolete computer equipment will no longer be able to support the current Operating Systems (OS), thus no longer be supported for security patching. They may also not support modern software. Upgrading hardware also allows institutions to adopt new and innovative teaching methods, such as online and blended learning, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Higher Education can mitigate some of these costs by leveraging cloud technologies for servers. Using capital server purchases requires purchasing hardware to meet peak demand, thus, over-purchasing capacity is needed for only 20% of the year. Cloud technologies can provide right-sized servers with in-place server “upgrades” or “downgrades” dynamically. This provides better cost management. It also offers the advantage of reducing the number of servers where a single, more powerful computer can be used to consolidate multiple smaller servers, thus lowering overall cost and support effort.

Yet some hardware assets live on the campus, such as external and in-building network infrastructure and classroom technologies. Failure to keep up with network technologies can translate into poor performance with newer laptops/phones/tablets, etc. In addition, known security vulnerabilities in obsolete equipment pose a significant risk. Cybersecurity audit findings for obsolete network equipment can cost millions of dollars to retrofit.

In conclusion, upgrading and refreshing hardware is essential to maintaining any system’s reliability and efficiency. This is particularly true in industries that rely heavily on technology, such as aviation, commercial, and higher education markets. Staying current with the latest hardware allows businesses and organizations to improve efficiency, stay competitive and provide the best possible service to customers and students.   Staying current with technology is a strategic and financial decision.  Can businesses afford to wait to invest in technology only after failure?

Leaders need to pay attention to the technology mix within their organization.  As technology stacks reach their peak simultaneously, the organization’s resources will be consumed by operational plays while contributing little to strategic development.   Consequently, leaders face the challenge of escaping the trap of rigidly staying too long with a set of successful technology ventures.  New technology platforms are always needed, and the skills to transform from old to new are demanded.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

Tim Taylor

Director ITSM

Do’s and Dont’s of Software Selection

Software selection is a crucial process for organizations looking to enhance their productivity and efficiency. The right software can streamline processes, automate manual tasks, and provide valuable insights into business operations. However, making the wrong selection can lead to frustration, wasted resources, and a negative impact on productivity. At CAG, we do many software selection projects for clients as a standalone or part of more extensive managed service agreements. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the dos and don’ts of software selection we have learned over the years.

Do’s of Software Selection

Buy In:
Ensure you have the right stakeholders involved and committed to the process. Educate them on why the process is necessary, how long it will take, and what their time commitment will need to be.

Define your requirements:
Before searching for the right software, you must define your requirements. This includes identifying the specific business problems you want to solve and the features and capabilities required to address them.

Consider your budget:
Software selection involves making a significant investment, so it’s essential to consider your budget. Determine how much you’re willing to spend and look for software that offers the needed features within your budget constraints.

Consider alternatives:
Upgrading or adding capabilities to existing systems, better user training, and/or enhanced support. Sometimes the best solution is already there and needs to be better utilized.

Research potential vendors:
Do your research on potential vendors. Look for a vendor with a proven record, a compelling reputation, and a history of providing high-quality software solutions.

Evaluate vendor support:
Consider the level of support you’ll receive from the vendor. Look for a vendor that offers excellent customer support, including training, technical support, and maintenance.

Don’ts of Software Selection

Don’t rush the process:
Software selection is a complex process that requires careful consideration and research. Don’t rush the process, or you may make a hasty decision that you’ll regret later.

Don’t forget about scalability:
When selecting software, it’s important to consider the future. Don’t forget to look for software that is scalable, so you can continue to use it as your business grows.

Don’t forget about the soft costs:
Large-scale organizational change can cause a lot of uncertainty with users, negatively impacting productivity and your vendors and customers.

Don’t overlook security:
Security is a critical concern in today’s digital world, and some organizations also have regulatory requirements for security. Don’t overlook this factor when selecting software, as a security breach can seriously affect your organization.

Don’t rely solely on vendor presentations:
Vendor presentations can be misleading, and it’s important to do your research.

Expect the unexpected:
Users will find potential solutions that haven’t been considered until the middle of the process, and vendors who have capabilities that weren’t surfaced in the research will pop up.  Maintain your process, but make sure you have a way of managing added information that comes up during the process.

In conclusion, the software selection process is critical to the success of any organization. By following the do’s and don’ts of software selection, according to Gartner, organizations can make informed decisions that will lead to enhanced productivity, efficiency, and profitability. The key is to take the time to involve stakeholders in the process, define your requirements, research potential vendors and options, and carefully evaluate and plan for the impact the solution will have on the organization. With careful consideration and diligence, organizations can find the right software to meet their needs and achieve their goals.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

David McLaughlin

David McLaughlin


What is Salesforce Education Cloud and Why Should Higher Education Consider It?

Salesforce Education Cloud is a cloud-based platform designed specifically for the education industry. It provides tools and resources that can help educators, administrators, and students manage, track, and analyze academic data, as well as communicate and collaborate more effectively. Some specific use cases for Salesforce Education Cloud include:

  1. Student and academic data management: Education Cloud can be used to store and manage student records, including demographics, grades, transcripts, and other relevant information. This can help educators and administrators keep track of student progress and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Course and program management: Education Cloud can be used to create and manage courses and programs, including schedules, curricula, and assessments. This can help educators and administrators track student progress and ensure that students are meeting academic goals.
  3. Collaboration and communication: Education Cloud provides platform for collaboration and communication, such as group chat and file sharing, which can be used by educators, students, and administrators to work together more effectively.
  4. Analytics and reporting: Education Cloud includes a range of analytics and reporting tools that can be used to track student progress and identify areas for improvement. This can help educators and administrators make data-driven decisions about how to best support student success. 

There are several reasons why higher education institutions should consider implementing Salesforce Education Cloud:

  1. Improved student engagement: Salesforce Education Cloud provides tools and resources to help higher education institutions better engage with their students. By using the platform, institutions can track student interactions, provide personalized support, and keep students informed about important updates and events. This can help to improve student satisfaction and retention rates.
  2. Increased efficiency: Salesforce Education Cloud can help higher education institutions streamline their operations and increase efficiency. By using the platform, institutions can automate many administrative tasks, such as scheduling, course registration, and student record-keeping. This can free up time and resources that can be better utilized in other areas of the business.
  3. Enhanced collaboration: Salesforce Education Cloud also provides tools and resources to help higher education institutions improve collaboration and communication between faculty, staff, and students. By using the platform, institutions can easily share documents, collaborate on projects, and communicate with students in real-time.
  4. Better data management: Salesforce Education Cloud can also help higher education institutions improve their data management processes. By using the platform, institutions can easily store and access student data, such as transcripts, enrollment records, and course schedules. This can help to improve decision-making and better track student progress.
  5. Configuration: Salesforce Education Cloud is highly configurable, which means that higher education institutions can tailor the platform to meet their specific needs. Institutions can choose which features and modules to use and can integrate the platform with other systems and tools.

In conclusion, Salesforce Education Cloud can provide numerous benefits to higher education institutions, including improved student engagement, increased efficiency, enhanced collaboration, better data management, and customization. By implementing Salesforce Education Cloud, higher education institutions can streamline their operations and better serve their students.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

Sameer Vitvekar

MS in Business Analytics, Accounting, and Economics

Why Purchasing with E&I Cooperative Services is a good idea for Higher Education

Purchasing via E&I Cooperative Services (E&I) benefits for higher education institutions for a number of reasons:

  • Cost savings: E&I is the only non-profit procurement cooperative exclusively focused on education. E&I helps its member institutions save money on their purchases by negotiating discounted prices and streamlined procurement processes with best-in-class providers by purchasing via E&I’s contracts, higher education institutions can take advantage of these cost savings, which can help them stretch their budgets and allocate more resources to other priorities, such as student success.
  • Streamlined procurement: Higher education institutions that partner with E&I can benefit from the organization’s competitively awarded procurement processes, which can help them save time and reduce administrative burden on busy procurement departments, acting as an extension of that department. By leveraging these services, higher education institutions can focus on their core mission of educating students rather than managing an additional procurement process.
  • Access to a wide range of products and services: E&I has a wide range of products and services available to its member institutions, including everything from office supplies and furniture to IT and facilities management. By partnering with E&I, higher education institutions can access these products and services at discounted prices, helping them save money and improve their operations.
  • Expertise and support: Higher education institutions that partner with E&I benefit from the organization’s expertise and support in procurement, supply chain management, and sustainability. Training and support for procurement professionals, guidance on sustainability initiatives, strategic spend assessments, and access to best practices and case studies.
  • Networking and collaboration: Higher education institutions that partner with E&I can benefit from the opportunity to network and collaborate with other institutions and organizations that are also focused on cost savings and efficiency. E&I members share best practices, learn from others’ experiences, and work together to solve common challenges.

Overall, partnering with E&I can provide higher education institutions with expedited access to supplier contracts that save money and streamline procurement processes. By leveraging the organization’s expertise and resources, higher education institutions can improve their operations and allocate more resources to their core mission of educating students.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

Haley Rose

Haley Rose

Chief Marketing Officer

Ellucian Banner Labor Market Shortages

The shortage of Ellucian Banner labor is a growing concern for many educational institutions. Ellucian Banner is a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system used by colleges and universities to manage a wide range of functions, including student information, financial aid, human resources, and more. As such, it is a critical component of the daily operations of these institutions.

However, finding qualified professionals to work with Ellucian Banner can be challenging. Several factors contribute to this shortage, including the complexity of the system and the lack of training programs available.

One of the main reasons for the shortage of Ellucian Banner labor is the system’s complexity. Ellucian Banner is a powerful tool that can handle a wide range of functions, but it also requires a high level of expertise to set up and maintain. This complexity can make it difficult for institutions to find qualified professionals who are familiar with the system and can effectively implement and support it.

Another factor contributing to the shortage of Ellucian Banner labor is the lack of training programs available. Many colleges and universities do not have the resources to provide in-house training for their staff, which can make it difficult for employees to learn the system. This can lead to a lack of qualified professionals who are familiar with Ellucian Banner and can effectively use it to support the institution.

A limited number of certified professionals are also trained in Ellucian Banner. This can make it difficult for institutions to find qualified professionals to fill open positions. Additionally, the demand for Ellucian Banner professionals is high, which can lead to competition for qualified candidates and drive up salaries.

The shortage of Ellucian Banner labor has serious consequences for educational institutions. Without qualified professionals to manage and maintain the system, institutions may struggle to effectively support students and staff, leading to a decline in service and satisfaction. This can also have a negative impact on the institution’s reputation and bottom line.

To address the shortage of Ellucian Banner labor, institutions can take a number of steps. One option is to invest in training programs to help current staff learn the system. This can be an effective way to build in-house expertise and reduce the need for outside professionals.

Another option is to partner with a third-party provider that can offer Ellucian Banner support and maintenance services. This can be a cost-effective way to ensure that the system runs smoothly and efficiently without hiring additional staff.

In conclusion, the shortage of Ellucian Banner labor is a growing concern for many educational institutions. The complexity of the system and the lack of training programs are contributing factors to this shortage. To address this issue, institutions can invest in training programs or partner with third-party providers to ensure they have the expertise they need to support students and staff effectively.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

Clay Gollier

Clay Gollier

SIS Practice Leader

How The Growth of Esports Could Transform College Enrollment

Colleges around the country are always competing to attract students to their organizations and this requires constant adaptation to the needs of the marketplace and a willingness to change with the times.  With more competition than ever, its those colleges that can expand their marketing and enrolment strategies that will stay on the cutting-edge.  It’s difficult to do this, of course, because of the status quo bias that we all carry with us – but it’s a crucial skill for 2022 and beyond.

One good example of where this is coming into play is in how colleges treat new, emerging trends like the growth of esports.  It feels like we’re at an inflection point right as the industry continues to expand – and it feels like the right time to tackle just what this means for the future of higher education.  We believe that it represents a tremendous opportunity to grab onto some new potential – but we’ll let you be the judge of it.

Let’s dive in.

What are Esports and Why Do They Matter?

Esports refers to organized competitions where people compete in video game format.  Any video game can fall into this category and what sets it apart from a mere hobby is the vast industry that has developed around it.  In a very short space of time, we’ve gotten to a place where large audiences are wanting to watch these competitions, funders who want to back it, and professional players who see this as a viable long-term career for the very first time.

To give you a sense of the scale here, some competitions can fill football stadiums with in-person fans, while still collecting thousands of people watching live online.  It’s kind of surreal to think about the fact that video game competitions are garnering such interest – but that’s where the world is moving.  Thanks to advancements in networking technology, the rapid growth of online streaming, and a societal change to the status of these games, this is now a very serious thing that all colleges should have their eyes on.

We rarely see such a distinct shift in something like this, and so it’s certainly worth paying attention to.

How Should Colleges Think About Esports?

There are some compelling reasons why colleges should be taking this trend seriously and adapting their strategies accordingly.  Here are some of the ones that stand out:

  • New Sporting Code.  For many colleges, the sporting component of the university is incredibly important.  It plays a major role in terms of raising funds, creating a strong brand, providing a well-rounded student experience, and developing an ecosystem of excellence that goes beyond the academics themselves.  

It’s in this vein that esports should be seriously considered as a new sporting code.  It’s inevitable that this world will continue to grow and colleges would do well to set themselves apart by recognizing this early and leaning into the potential here.  By attracting some of the top esports players that are coming out of schools, you give yourself a chance to optimize your admissions for the future – capturing talent that was previously not fully appreciated and creating a student body that represents the full spectrum of the modern world.  It also will help to create a strong sporting environment that can bear fruit in the future.

  • Transferable Skills.  Leaning into esports is also a counter-intuitive way of investing in skills that are very valuable in our modern era.  The very nature of esports is that it engrosses students in technology in a way that can be much more immersive and entertaining than some other means.  We’re always looking for ways to incentivize more engagement with STEM-related subjects and this is a great way to do this.  

Whether it’s the playing of the games itself, or the work that comes with setting up and managing the competitions, there is space for an entirely new collective to grow around these esports that can provide students with a new way to engage, learn, and advance as people.

  • Critical Thinking.  It might not seem so at first glance, but esports actually provides the perfect environment for the development of critical thinking skills.  In any game that you play, there are a range of cognitive and procedural things that you must learn in order to overcome obstacles and achieve the end objectives of the game.  The feedback loops on this learning are immediate and because the rewards are gamified, students don’t even see it as learning.  It becomes a trojan horse that trains concentration, strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving in a way that just can’t be replicated via textbook or lecture.  

As we do more scientific studies into this phenomenon we’ll understand it better, but what is for sure is that these esports are so much more than just about the game.  They are a virtual microcosm for young people to explore new concepts and stretch themselves in service of their cognitive development.

Those are just three of the major points of consideration that should be front of mind for colleges the world over.  By taking these seriously and preparing for what is to come, you put yourself ahead of the game.

Where To From Here?

It’s clear that this trend isn’t turning around and while some dismiss it, others see the opportunity for something special here.  It can help with college enrollment, open up new pathways, and create spaces for new sorts of student engagement that might just transform the way that you think about your admissions process.

Those colleges who get ahead of the curve and start readying themselves for this future are going to have a significant advantage over those who ignore the signs.  Esports are here to stay and they are going to play a major role at the intersection of sport and technology going forward.  It’s time that we remove the stigma from this industry and embrace the rapid growth and widespread benefits that such sports can provide.

Why College Enrollment is Declining and How SIS Can Help

When colleges and universities were forced to close their doors midway through the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus, no one anticipated it would have such a dramatic effect on enrollment for the next two years.

In the fall of 2020, the first full semester in the pandemic, undergraduate enrollment dropped by 3.4%. That initial decline was expected as many students opted to stay home amidst fears of the virus. However, with multiple vaccines available and infection cases dropping, most experts predicted that enrollment rates would rebound.

That did not happen.

Enrollment dropped another 3.2% in the fall of 2021. This continued decline marks the biggest two-year decrease in the last 50 years.

While many believe that the pandemic is the primary reason for smaller undergraduate classes, the truth is that COVID only boosted what was already happening. There has been a steady decrease in new students enrolling in colleges and universities across the country. Between 2011 and 2019, student enrollment dropped 11%.

This decline has affected every type of higher-level institution – from community colleges and public state schools to for-profits and private liberal arts schools – forcing some smaller schools to permanently close. However, the schools most affected are two-year community colleges which saw a 14.1% decline in enrollment during the past two years.

Why Are Fewer Students Attending College?

Before the pandemic, the biggest reason for declining enrollment was that the U.S. was experiencing a strong economy. Historically, when there is a recession and unemployment is up, people use that opportunity to get a higher education. When the economy is strong, more people leave college early or postpone it to start working.

However, with the sudden recession brought on by the pandemic, many families found themselves unable to pay for their children to attend college. This resulted in the numbers continuing to decline despite historical trends.

Also, colleges must account for the rise of non-traditional options like online colleges, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and technology bootcamps that offer industry-recognized certifications. These educational avenues are more affordable and oftentimes more accessible to students weighing their options.

And finally, the cost of college is also playing a major factor in the falling enrollment numbers. While there are financial benefits to earning a college degree, rising costs are beginning to take their toll on prospective students. Between 2009 and 2019, the cost of college increased by more than 25% at private universities and almost 30% at public schools.

What Impact Does Lower Enrollment Have on Colleges and Universities?

To put it bluntly, lower enrollment means there is less tuition being paid to the university. This has a direct impact on the school’s operating budget, resulting in cutbacks including, but not limited to:

  • Labor force reductions.
  • Canceled or diminished programs.
  • Postponed or canceled campus improvements.

How An Effective Student Information System Integration Can Help Improve College Enrollment

At some schools, there is little communication or collaboration between different departments or offices. Departments buy competing software tools that serve the same purpose instead of consolidating purchases under a single, effective solution. This makes it difficult for students to apply while understanding admission requirements and course transfer equivalencies.

If institutions wants to improve enrollment, they need to rethink their practices, especially for recruitment, admission and registration. The key is making everything as simple as possible for your prospective students – a one-stop-shop where they can access everything they need to apply.

To do this you need an easy-to-use and effective student information system (SIS) that is fully integrated with data systems across the institution.

By leveraging the full capabilities of your SIS, you can offer your students a fast and easy-to-use solution that allows them to access and handle every aspect of their student journey.

  • Admissions
  • Enrollment
  • Tuition
  • Financial Aid
  • Class Registration
  • Degree Program Planning
  • Graduation

You can also use SIS data analytics to make predictive models based on past and current trends. Used correctly, you can predict future trends in enrollment and adjust your recruitment efforts accordingly. For example, institutions might focus on specific demographics to maximize recruitment in key areas or recruit specific majors based on changes in enterprise, technology, or society. This helps drive traffic and encourages students to begin the steps necessary to admission.

Transfer equivalency software lets prospective students input their previous coursework from dual-credit high school work or classes from another college and immediately see how it applies to their new program course requirements. They can also compare different program requirements so they can determine which requires the fewest additional classes to graduate. This results in quicker graduation and savings for the student.

Academic course tracking software like Ellucian Degree Works provides comprehensive advising and degree auditing that helps students understand which courses to take and when to take them. This helps students understand course requirements, program timelines and course transfer status quicker and easier so they do not waste time and money taking unnecessary or redundant courses.

In addition, a mobile-friendly SIS is the preferred option for students as it eliminates a student’s reliance on their computer to access their degree program or enrollment data. Mobile access allows them to easily upload documents to the financial aid office or send vaccination records to the enrollment office.

Custom SIS Solutions for Your College or University

Columbia Advisory Group’s (CAG) mission is to provide the technology, resources, guidance and support you need to effectively optimize your SIS solution at your college or university. From IT consulting and managed services to ERP, LMS and SIS implementation and management, CAG delivers custom solutions that are flexible, scalable, and cost-effective to help you with your enrollment challenges.

CAG helps you create a unique student interface that’s simple, seamless, and branded. We integrate systems so that everything from application to enrollment follows automated admission rules so students do not have to jump through hoops to get accepted.

Using the Banner SIS suite, or your chosen SIS system, CAG can help you provide your students access to an entire suite of solutions that lets them do everything including applying for admission, registering for classes, tracking their progress, and filing for graduation. CAG can help you choose and integrate SUS modules that you can use to create more efficient and streamlined business processes. This helps you focus on recruiting the type of students you want while marketing your school to the right prospects.

To learn more about how CAG can help you improve your SIS solutions to better serve your current and prospective students, click here and let us know how we can help you.

Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative by the US Department Of Justice (DoJ): Everything You Need to Know!

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has officially launched its new Civil Cyber-Fraud initiative. It enacted the legislation to strengthen cybersecurity standards among contractors undertaking government projects and receiving federal funds and other grant recipients such as universities. Such organizations and beneficiaries need to address cybersecurity risks and report breaches to comply with the latest legislation and regulatory guidelines

The new Cyber Fraud Initiative from the US Department of Justice brings together the department’s expertise in civil fraud enforcement, government contracting, and cybersecurity to counteract existing and growing cybersecurity risks to confidential material and safety infrastructure. The Department of Justice is working to improve the resilience of the country and its critical information infrastructure (CII) against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats via new reforms was much needed to ensure the protection of trade secrets, Intellectual Property (IP), proprietary knowledge, trademarks, and copyrights, protecting the privacy of all stakeholders involved, and preventing sensitive and confidential information from falling into the hands of threat actors. This will ensure that taxpayers’ money is used diligently and will also help build public trust in the system in safeguarding their valuable information assets.

Cyber Fraud: Some Key Statistics

According to AtlasVPN, the damages to organizations by cybercrimes from 2019 to the current time have increased by 37.4% with each passing year. Further, the rate of cybercrimes will increase by over 40%.


Some of the vital cybercrime statistics in the US and around the globe shows how threatening and challenging cybercrime has become:

  • FBI’s IC3 reported complaints in 2020 contained over 241,342 phishing, 76,741 extortion, and over 45,000 personal data cyber breaches.
  • Malicious actors attack 1/5th of educational institutions and universities, with 65% of data breaches targeting higher-education centers.
  • 2022 will be the year for misinformation campaigns surrounding cybercrimes, which will become the new attack vector.
  • Cybercrimes are ever-increasing and are estimated to cost $10.5 trillion per annum to businesses by 2025.

The New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative By The US DoJ

The new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative will use the False Claims Act to investigate cybersecurity-related misconduct by government contractors and those receiving federal grants and funds. The Act also incorporates the “whistleblower” clause that permits individuals who volunteer evidence pertinent to an inquiry to benefit from any assets seized. The Department of Justice will utilize the FCA (False Claims Act) to hold primary liability for failure to satisfy cybersecurity criteria, including prosecutions for:

  • Offerings and services that aren’t up to par in terms of cybersecurity within the organization or for knowingly providing deficient cybersecurity products or services.
  • Cybersecurity-related information, cybersecurity protocols, and processes that are misrepresented or falsified.
  • Negligence by management or the organization in managing, tracking, and notifying cybersecurity incidents and data breaches.

While the DOJ’s approach is novel, the use of the False Claims Act to compel cybersecurity adherence is not. Still, due to the current Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, it has become more crucial than ever for institutions to be ready to deal with constitutional issues relevant to cyber intrusions. On a high level, the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative:

  • Holds the government contractors and grantees to their commitments to protect government information and infrastructure.
  • Ensures that government contractors recognize and develop strategies to comply with contract terms, statutes, and federal requirements.
  • Provides an opportunity for reimbursement of taxpayers’ and governments’ money if there is a compromise at the organization’s end.
  • Drives organizations receiving government grants and funds also work to build a strong cybersecurity posture.

Industries to be Impacted by The New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

The Department of Justice’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative may impact almost all private, public, or government organizations receiving government funds or grants, but let’s look at its impact on some of the critical sectors in detail:

  • Health Care and Life Sciences: The Cyber Fraud Initiative would target federal employees and federally funded beneficiaries. Therefore, medical and life sciences organizations that partner with or receive support from the legislative branch may be susceptible to FCA inspection.
  • Educational Institutions: Failure to comply with the Cyber-Fraud Initiative may have far-reaching ramifications for universities and higher education institutions receiving government funds and grants but who lack adequate cybersecurity safeguards. In consideration of federal requirements, every university or college that retains critical or privileged information must carefully evaluate the forms and the efficacy of its security controls and procedures.
  • Banking and Financial Industry: Banking and financial organizations are a significant target for malicious actors because of the scale and sensitivity of data that they store. Following the Cyber Fraud Initiative, all monetary regulators will need sufficient documentation and reporting structures, cybersecurity policies, and incident response strategies since any violation of rules would hold them accountable and liable.
  • Defense Industry: The initiative brings in the DOJ’s expertise and experience in various government procurement and civil fraud enforcement to combat emerging cybersecurity threats and risks. This helps protect confidential and sensitive information and critical information systems. For instance, if a defense contractor misuses trade secrets stored digitally in the form of government intellectual property n, the contractor could become liable, especially if the contractor fails to report the breach.

Risks of Non-Compliance

Non-Compliance with the new Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative opens organizations and individuals to various risks, such as:

  • Increased Liability Risks: The Department of Justice announced that it intends to hold organizations and individuals liable for various actions, including intentionally offering inadequate cybersecurity services, deliberately mischaracterizing their cybersecurity practices or procedures, and knowingly failing to report data breaches and infringements. Contractors may be held liable for failure to cooperate with cyber breach reporting terms in government contracts within the Cyber Fraud Initiative.
  • Penalties on Enterprises and Individuals: NIST 800-171 applies to any organization or agency that deals with Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Those who do not adhere to statutory cybersecurity requirements could be prosecuted using the FCA clause in the Cyber Fraud Initiative and face a penalty. Furthermore, besides enterprises, DoJ can hold civilians legally responsible for cybersecurity-related fraud.
  • Increased Litigation Risks: The Department of Justice notably emphasizes relying on whistleblowers to help the government restore order in its announcement. After determining their cybersecurity basis, organizations should consider implementing an internal review with counsel to compare their declarations to the federal government. The FCA cyber-risk exposes the organization to litigation if any disparities with the legal framework are identified.

Recommendations: Here is What Organizations Can Do!

Organizations can protect themselves better and ensure compliance with the Department of Justice’s new law with the help of:

  • Internal Audits and Assessments: Organizations should continue to identify their key information assets and evaluate their readiness for a cyber breach, and internal audits and assessments play a critical role in it. Based on the internal assessment, organizations can prioritize actions and processes to protect their information assets before, during, and after a security incident or data breach.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Reviews: Organizations must implement changes to continuously monitor changes within the technology environment, vulnerability management, and activities to anticipate various infringements with federal regulatory frameworks, processes, and policies. They may use whistleblowers to help with the process.
  • Documentation: Clearly written standards, plans, and policies are essential for ensuring the organization’s compliance with the cybersecurity requirements as per the government. Robust documentation will also help resolve internal issues and potential leaks eliminating questions regarding the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed to effectively identify and address a security incident.
  • Internal Discussions: The Management should ensure that all policy conformity discussions with the government are correctly recorded and readily available. They must also collaborate with individuals who identify issues to analyze risk exposures.

Final Words

The Department of Justice’s Cyber Fraud Initiative seeking compliance with the False Claims Act is the government’s official legal remedy for for cybersecurity negligence and fraud. The strategy raises the bar for adherence initiatives for federal contractors or federal grant beneficiaries, such as universities. The latter are far more at risk concerning adopting essential cybersecurity precautions and deciding whether or not to disclose a violation because of the False Claims Act.

Expect increased FCA litigation against organizations that fail to mitigate the risk of cyber breaches. Attentive cybersecurity compliance procedures will ensure protect sensitive data an minimize the risk of significant fines under the FCA.


  1. Krotoski, M., Baruch, D., & Fan, S. (2021, December 08). Are you prepared for DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative? Morgan Lewis.
  2. Department of Justice. (2021, October 6). Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco announces new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative.
  3. Gersh, D., Moundas, C., O’Connor, A., Darch, J. & Hardy, G. (2021, November 24). DOJ Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative may impact health care and life sciences companies. Mondaq.
  4. Shaheen, M., Bartle, S., & Trujillo, G. (2022, January 19). Cybersecurity compliance requirements may surprise higher ed. University Business.
  5. Ross, R., Pillitteri, V., Dempsey, K., Riddle, M., & Guissanie, G. (2020). Protecting controlled unclassified information in nonfederal systems and organizations. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  6. The false claims act. (2019, June 17). Retrieved February 20, 2022, from website: