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Increasing Role of Computer-Based Information Systems in the Management of Higher Education Institutions
By
Clement Nyandiere
Abstract
Trends across the world show a growing demand for information systems for educational institutions. Many of them have been running manual systems, pushing paperwork, for ages. They have had cumbersome working procedures and this has led to low productivity occasioned by highly inept manual systems. Many of the higher educational instructions (HEIs) have implemented one form of computer-based information system (CIS) or other to manage their academic and management needs.

But why are our HEIs turning to computerised information systems? There is a general demand on institutional managers to deliver high quality service; there is increasing need for management productivity; efficiency brought about by the systems; there is the increased recognition of information as an important corporate resource that is key to good decision making in a competitive and ever dynamic environment; and technologyhardware, software, telecommunications and related technologies- is now fairly priced and therefore more affordable to many institutions.

However, as the HEIs quest for information systems implementation, they face a number of challenges to overcome which include lack of awareness and mindset among staff; lack of top level management commitment thus bringing forth bureaucracies and red-tape in system implementation; lack of appreciation of ICT as a tool and not panacea for organizational transformation; poor strategy in making ICT responsive to the organizational vision and mission; lack of a systematic method of system implementation; lack of project ownership- all employees and users must be involved in system implementation; inhibiting initial costs of hardware and software and funding for sustainability and continuity in maintenance, replacement of equipment and emolument of ICT staff who maintain the systems, among others.

This paper identifies strategic management of organizations, strategic ICT planning, and integration of ICT in the management of HEIs as key ways of overcoming some of the challenges that HEIs face in their effort to implement systems in the institutions.

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1. Introduction
Higher educational institutions (HEIs) across the world are facing new challenges ranging from management, staffing, finances, and now increasingly technology. Chacha, (2004) while discussing emerging issues in higher education in Africa indicates that trends show that the rise of new stakeholders, internal factors, globalisation and the rapid pace at which new knowledge is created and utilized provide major challenges to higher education institutions across the world and Africa in particular. He further identifies the key challenges of higher educational institutions as being, the drop in research and publication by faculty due to heavy teaching responsibility; poor leadership and management practices; poor remuneration of staff; diminishing financing; lack of quality standards to measure performance of the HEIs with their counterparts elsewhere; lack of jobs for graduates from the HEIs; gender inequality in favour of men; lack of further training opportunities; and lack of ICT capacity and utilisation in the running of the institutions.

As noted by Chacha, ICT utilisation in HEIs has been key concern with many of the institutions having implemented various systems to help them manage information resources for better management of the institutions. He however notes that with the swiftness of ICT developments, their increasing spread and availability, there is need to tap the ICT potential to enhance data collection and analysis, and to strengthen management information systems in HEIs in Kenya (and by extension Africa).

This paper analyses the emerging trend of implementation of information systems in HEIs, appreciating the role ICTs playing in HEIs management, strategies for implementation of...
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