Review of the year

In what has been an extremely turbulent year UCISA, through the work of its Executive, its Groups and the UCISA Office, has sought to address the needs of our community in these uncertain times. Brief highlights of this work are given below.

UCISA’s work continues to be cited and our expertise sought by others:

  • The report from the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons into the technology issues of the Investigatory Powers Bill reflected the concerns expressed in UCISA’s response about the scope and cost of implementation of the Bill. Now the Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, UCISA will be looking at the implications for UK universities and colleges;
  • UCISA’s Model Regulations and suggested amendment to accommodate the Counter Terrorism legislation were referenced in the Advice Note accompanying HEFCE’s revised framework for monitoring the Prevent duty in higher education institutions in England. UCISA will continue to review guidance and recommendations to ensure that it meets the needs of both the legislation and the sector, and is effective and proportionate;
  • UCISA was represented on the Advisory Board for the Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP) and is represented on both the Programme and Advisory Boards for the HESA Data Futures Programme;
  • UCISA continues to have representation on the UCAS Council.

We have provided advice and guidance to our members through:

  • The provision of an online Information Security Awareness Training course free to our Full members. The course can be downloaded free of charge from the UCISA website as a zipped SCORM 1.2 package which may then be imported into a VLE. We are currently reviewing an updated version of the course and expect to make an announcement on its availability early in the New Year;
  • The UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit, a collaboration between UCISA, AUDE and SCHOMS, our sister organisations for Directors of Estates and Media Services staff, was published in February. The Toolkit provides guidance for Audiovisual, IT and Estates teams and demonstrates why the provision of excellent learning spaces should be a strategic, institution wide concern. UCISA are collaborating further with SCHOMS, AUDE and a number of other organisations to develop case studies based on the Toolkit content;
  • The Effective Benefits Management for IT and Business Change Projects Toolkit provides an overview of the principles behind achieving Benefits Realisation and tools for use in projects;
  • The Government has advised that General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become law in the UK in May 2018 as planned. We published a number of pieces on the regulation and will be publishing a briefing paper on the implementation of the GDPR in 2017.

In 2016, we have promoted the sharing of good practice through:

  • Running seven face to face events including five multiday conferences, all of which were fully booked. Every event, bar one, included participation from our corporate members through exhibition stands and presentations. 2016 saw the first conference organised jointly between the Corporate Information Systems Group and the Project and Change Management Group. Feedback from the event was extremely positive and highlighted the benefit of bringing different specialist groups together;
  • Running seven webinars covering topics as diverse as data security and cloud based applications. We recognise that not everyone can afford the time to travel and will be looking to continue offering occasional webinars throughout 2017.
  • Recognising the excellent work that takes place in our member institutions through the Award for Excellence. The Award always attracts entries covering a wide range of topics. 2016 was no different with the Award going to the University of St Andrews for their apprentice scheme;
  • Publishing case studies to supplement the 2016 Technology Enhanced Learning Survey and the 2015 Digital Capabilities Survey;
  • Publishing a best practice guide for Establishing Process Improvement Capability in a higher education environment;
  • Awarding bursaries for individuals within the UCISA membership to attend a wide range of conferences and update the community on the practices highlighted.

We have conducted a number of surveys to allow our members to benchmark themselves against their peers, and to establish the level of maturity of activity within the sector. In addition to the annual Higher Education IT Statistics and Corporate Information Systems survey, this year we:

  • Published the results of the eighth survey on Technology Enhanced Learning. The results from previous surveys have been presented to audiences across the world;
  • Carried out the second Service Desk Benchmarking survey in collaboration with the Service Desk Institute and TopDesk;
  • Discussed ways of benchmarking IT departments in institutions internationally with our partner organisations across the globe.

The list above highlights just some of the work that our Committees and the UCISA Office has carried out on behalf of our members. A more formal annual report will be published in the New Year and presented at the Association’s AGM at the UCISA17 Conference at Celtic Manor on 9 March.

2017 promises to be another challenging year. The Government’s plans for Brexit will be published and the process to leave the EU will begin. UCISA will monitor developments and provide access to information and guidance as the process begins. The Higher Education and Research Bill will pass through Parliament and bring with it changes in the governance structure for higher education in England. UCISA will provide guidance for institutions beginning to implement the changes required for when the GDPR becomes law in the 2017-18 academic year. And that is all in addition to the normal tasks of deploying systems to enhance teaching and learning, to improve the student experience and to facilitate research and manage the data and outputs associated with it. We recognise that many of these challenges require a collaborative approach. We will continue to work with Jisc, with our sister professional associations both within the UK and abroad, and with our growing corporate membership.

I should like to take this opportunity to remind you that bookings are open for the UCISA17 Conference in March. Bookings are also open for three other events taking place in the first half of the year.

Finally, thank you for your support in 2016. I wish you, on behalf of the UCISA team, all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

Peter Tinson
Executive Director
21 December 2016

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