Monthly Archives: August 2014

EUNIS international perspective leads to promotion

John Beaver
Assistant Director User Services
University of Bath



EUNIS Congress 11th to 13th June 2014, Umeå

I received a bursary from UCISA which covered conference fee, accommodation and flight to the 2014 EUNIS Congress in Umeå in northern Sweden. EUNIS is a pan-European association of higher education IT leaders and UCISA itself has membership (although the University of Bath is not directly affiliated).

This brief paper outlines the effect and impact of the bursary and how I have been able to use learnings and experiences back at my home institution.

In my application for the bursary, I outlined some of the specific sessions in the agenda which looked particularly noteworthy or which had particular relevance. Of particular interest were the areas of innovation in the sector, and the application of Enterprise Architecture principles. At the time, I was developing a bid for an Innovation Lab at the University in collaboration with the University’s Learning & Teaching Enhancement Office.

The event itself was thought provoking. One particular aspect which I appreciated was the ability to see the international perspective. It was interesting for instance to see how fully digital assessments were moving into the mainstream in some of the Nordic countries. Kurt Gammelgaard Nielsen from Syddansk University in Denmark reported that his VC asked for an end to paper-based examinations and they now deliver 75,000 digital assessments every year using a mixture of students own laptops and digital pen technology. This made me realise that it is not inconceivable that in the future the entire student experience, from admissions to exams will take place digitally. This realisation and subsequent thinking formed a key part of my vision which I presented at a recent successful interview to head up the MIS function here at the University so from a personal perspective, the bursary has been invaluable!

Another useful topic (which also served me well for my MIS application) was the power of the data which can be derived from electronic assessments. The University of Huddersfield’s Cheryl Reynolds spoke about the power of drawing together data from electronic assessments to derive information, identify trends and draw conclusions which can then directly feed back into the curriculum or trigger interventions in the students’ learning experience. For instance, she has been experimenting with the Grademark features of Turnitin (anti-plagiarism software) which allows assessors to quickly identify common errors such as poor use of citations and references. These data can then be aggregated across students to show potential areas of concern. For instance, a large number of students demonstrating poor use of references could trigger the teacher to promote best practice in the next lecture. Powerful though this can be, Cheryl urged caution in how these data are used. We need to be mindful of the future (ab)use of the data and understand that a student’s learning experience is far more than just the set of digital artefacts about their studies. But it is clear that “Management Information” is now a much wider and less silo’d entity than was the case a few years ago and, if understood and exploited creatively, can serve to give an HEI a competitive edge.

Other material that has value that will be useful in future was the presentation about the adoption of an Enterprise Architecture practice at the University of Helsinki. Whilst I am not convinced that a full EA adoption is appropriate at Bath at this time, I am attempting to embed some of the principles and thinking to ensure that applications and services are aligned to University strategy.

As well as the Tweets and blogs produced around the time of the event, I also produced a management report for my internal management team outlining some of the opportunities and areas which may be worthy of further investigation (to be turned into a report for UCISA).

Overall, it was a pleasure to be selected to be the recipient of the bursary. The formal presentations and informal interactions at the social events have given me the opportunity to understand the opportunities and challenges which are present in the sector internationally.

Comments welcome on new structure for the UCISA Information Security Toolkit

We would like to invite comment from the community on the revised structure and content of the UCISA Information Security Toolkit which was agreed by the project group at a meeting last month.


The UCISA Information Security Toolkit  has been very successful, providing much needed assistance to information security professionals across the sector. Since the original funding application for the project in 2004, there have been a number of iterations of the document,  based upon changing standards and sector wide activity.  The last Toolkit was published in 2007 (third edition).

A number of factors have prompted a rewrite and expansion of the document: cloud technologies, PCI DSS, data classification and supportive practical advice in the form of appropriate feedback cycles (for example Plan/Do/Check/Act). The largest factor was the release of the BS ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard in the autumn of last year.

The group comprising of colleagues from University College London, University of Oxford, Loughborough University, Cardiff University, the University of York and Janet have met regularly in person and via Skype in order to generate new content.   The revised Toolkit will include a number of practical case studies demonstrating what works and does not work in practice. Topics include: policy development;  raising user awareness;  investigations and research security.

The new Toolkit will be launched in March 2015 to coincide with  UCISA 2015, Edinburgh and Janet Networkshop43,  Exeter.

Matt Cook, Chair, UCISA Networking Group
Head of Infrastructure and Middleware,
Loughborough University, IT Services