When a college sets out to procure a technology product or service, it’s usually to fill an immediate need, but contract negotiations with vendors can drag out the process for three to six months—or even longer.
Enter CollegeBuys, a program of the non-profit Foundation for California Community Colleges (CCC). CollegeBuys can streamline the procurement process on behalf of a college or district by securing contracts that comply with California Public Contract Code, and—by aggregating the buying power of the 113 community colleges—offer significant cost savings as well.
The organization also partners with the California Higher Education Strategic Sourcing Initiative (CHESS) to duplicate existing California State University and University of California vendor contracts, and adapt them to CCC business processes.
CollegeBuys offers discounted pricing for the colleges on a wide range of educational products—from industry-leading software and technology to high-quality office and classroom furniture.
“We were created as a resource for the system—use us if you need us,” said Jorge J.C. Sales, Director of CollegeBuys. “At the same time, we’re not going to be offended if you use a contract from elsewhere. But we want to avoid situations where a CTO goes too far down the road in talks with a vendor without a compliant contract in place.”
Technology For Colleges
CollegeBuys began in 1999 with a major agreement with Microsoft—and that agreement remains in place today with 109 CCCs using the contract to purchase a host of software products at deeply discounted prices. “This is by far our most advantageously priced contract for the CCC, and is reflective of Microsoft’s commitment to higher education,” Sales said.
A similar deal with Adobe is being used by 100 of the community colleges, he added.
Through the CHESS initiative, which took effect Jan. 1, CollegeBuys now also offers products from:
- CDW-G—An information technology (IT) products reseller and University of California (UC) partner. The agreement includes products from Cisco, VMware, Palo Alto, Microsoft Hardware and more. CollegeBuys is currently in talks with CDW-G for a dedicated contract for the CCC, and hopes to have that in place by next summer.
- SHI—A California State University (CSU) partner for computer hardware, software and IT products and services. Partners under this agreement include Cisco, VMware, Veeam, Splunk, Toshiba, and many others.
- Regroup—A provider of emergency and mass notification solutions that seamlessly integrate with Ellucian and Blackboard products, databases, scheduling systems, digital signage, desktop alerts, PBX/phone systems, outdoor sirens, PA systems, websites/portals, forums/message boards, social media, RSS feeds, and more. The Foundation has secured a 30-percent discount off the base subscription price for the CCC.
Supporting The OEI
Additionally, CollegeBuys and the Foundation have supported the CCC Online Education Initiative (OEI) by securing contracts for resources that include:
- Link-Systems International—Services available to the community colleges include NetTutor, a 24/7 live tutoring solution offered to the colleges at $24/hour; Refer-Tutor-Report, a service that allows faculty to refer students to online tutoring with guidance on specific needs for each learner; and WorldWideWhiteboard, an online tutoring collaboration platform.
- Cranium Café—A software platform where students can instantly join a face-to-face meeting with an advisor, counselor, tutor, professor or classmate. Under the agreement, the annual rate per full time equivalent (FTE) student is $3.75, a discount from the standard $4.25 FTE rate, plus a one-time set-up fee of $750, a discount from the standard $1,000 set-up fee.
- Proctorio—An online proctoring software solution that offers cost-effective methods to validate student identity and activity during an online exam. Through the agreement, colleges are offered a systemwide tiered pricing: The first 250,000 students cost $10.20 each, the next 100,000 students cost $9.18 each and then any additional student will cost $8.16 each.
- SmarterServices (under development)—An online learning diagnostic assessment tool designed to evaluate prospective online students’ readiness for learning in the online environment and identify areas that may present challenges to their academic success in online learning. The contract will be available to the community colleges in July 2016.
- VeriCite (under development)—A cloud-based plagiarism detection software which functions by comparing submitted work against an ever-increasing database of work sources. Included in VeriCite’s condition for partnership with the OEI is a framework for compliance with WCAG 2.0 accessibility conformance level AA. VeriCite annual subscription pricing is $1.05 per student headcount. The contract will be available to community colleges in July 2016.
“We try to find creative ways to develop agreements that can be leveraged systemwide so the colleges can focus on developing successful students,” Sales said.
For more information about CollegeBuys, visit FoundationCCC.org/CollegeBuys.
Crista Souza is the TechEDge News Editor