For universities across the country, the summer has finally arrived. Before you put on your bathing suit and head to the beach, take a quick moment to reflect on this past semester. As an administrator, how much paper do you think your average professor uses? While it’ll be hard to come up with an exact number, let’s try to do some quick math to set the stage:

  • Each class has a syllabus; assuming it’s relatively short, let’s estimate three pages
  • If you teach small classes, maybe you have 30 students in each class, or 30 students x three pages per student = 90 pages
  • Now let’s assume you taught four classes last semester. That’s four classes x 90 pages per class = 360 pages

You’ve now used 360 pages of paper for your four classes and we’re just talking about the syllabus. Even with these conservative numbers, we can see how the amount of paper used at universities can grow exponentially. Yale University noticed this problem back in 2011 when an audit of its paper consumption showed the school had used 211,033 reams of paper (a ream is comprised of 500 sheets). To put that in perspective, Yale used enough paper that year to stretch three-quarters of the way around the world. The internal study also found that the university spent nearly $680,000 on paper, twice as much as it spent on toner.

But is it really possible to eliminate paper in academia? It is if your university is working with an advanced intranet portal like Microsoft SharePoint. With a SharePoint implementation, your university can function exactly as it would with paper, but completing all its functions through the SharePoint server. We recently completed a four-part blog series that outlines exactly how SharePoint works in educational institutions and why it is beneficial, which you can read here.

If there is one thing the Yale study proved, aside from the mind boggling amount of paper a single university can use, it’s that taking actions like implementing SharePoint can have immediate results. By utilizing alternative methods like SharePoint, the student employment office, school of medicine, and finance and business operations department combined to save $252,000.

To learn more about how a SharePoint implementation can benefit your university, click here.