Tag Archives: professional development

Bursary gives winner the courage to innovate and take up new challenges

Leah March
Process Improvement Facilitator
University of Sheffield

Lessons learned from the Lean HE Tromsø conference

In October 2018, I received a UCISA bursary to attend the Lean HE 2018 Conference in Tromsø thanks to being one of the very lucky beneficiaries of the UCISA bursary scheme. It was a brilliant week with many informative, interesting and applicable sessions.
The conference brings together many people working in change and improvement roles within HE around the world.

On a personal note

I found attending the conference thoroughly invigorating. It reinforced my pride and passion for working in business improvement and confidence in my skill set and its place within the sector. It also provided me with the ‘courage to change’ my own situation (Professor Tove Dahl spoke powerfully about courage in her key note). I applied for and accepted a new role within another HE institution.

My team

It encouraged me to devise with my team new approaches to stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the recurrent theme of reducing stakeholder time for project/improvement activities and stakeholder exhaustion with ‘change’ projects. I have adapted my approach to rely a lot less on conventional workshops, instead embracing user shadowing, stakeholder interviews/drop-ins and project showcase events. This has been more time heavy on me but has allowed me to better fit around the requirements and workloads of the project stakeholders.

Institutionally

A recurrent theme of the conference was the importance of combining different but complementary methodologies. I was recently made responsible for creating The University of Sheffield’s approach to service design and I took my learning from the conference and made sure that I incorporated best practice from different methodologies (Lean, Systems Thinking, Six Sigma, Service Design) and other industries rather than allowing it to become too wedded to a single one.

More widely

I have shared my experience and key take home messages via a UCISA blog and have also recently created a summary guide with fellow bursary winner and conference attendee, Mark Boswell. The aim of the guide is to highlight useful tools and topics shared throughout the conference and some tips on making the most of the conference experience. It also includes possible next steps in relation to both attending the 2019 conference, and applying for the UCISA bursary funding which allowed us to attend.
The conference really showed me that there is a huge support network within HE both UK based and across Europe, Australia and the Americas, and the value of reaching out to this network, which can provide you with great insights, reassurance and ideas about how to optimise your work. I am still in touch with some of the people I met at the conference via Linkedin and email and feel like I have a bigger network of support than before.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Learning how to future proof integrations at Integrate

Bryony Lloyd
Information Services Developer
University of Lincoln

Integrate 2018, London, 4th– 6th June

In June 2018, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Integrate 2018 conference, run by Biztalk360, thanks to the UCISA bursary. This consisted of three days of talks from Biztalk experts and also industry leaders who are utilising this technology. Being able to listen to these industry experts about how they utilise the technology in their environment, as well as the draw backs and the advantages, has enabled me to adapt the developments in order to make the most out of the Biztalk environment.
Other benefits of the conference included learning about the direction Biztalk is going in from their developers. Bringing this back to the team has ensured we can plan for how we future proof our integrations. Personally, being able to hear about the direction and new features being introduced has been far more effective than just reading about it on the internet. This has enabled me to widen my knowledge of their plan which again has allowed us to start discussions within the team on how to future proof our integrations. Although nothing immediate has happened since, the knowledge gained from the conference has enabled me to participate in discussions within the department and with Microsoft about the best way forward for our setup.
After coming back from the conference, I spoke to the team about the options we have. We have also started looking into other options presented at the conference such as Logic Apps on Microsoft Azure. At the conference, the interface and the basics of how the interface works were demonstrated with hints and tips on how to use certain features and how to get the most out of it. This has put me in a better position to share my knowledge and experience with the team.
In the next six months to a year, we will be looking at how the Biztalk environment is set up and how we are going to ensure we are getting the most out of it. This might be changing to or incorporating other technologies such as Logic Apps and Microsoft Azure in order to achieve this.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Thinking outside the box with CPD

Rachel Drinkwater
Senior Business Analyst
Coventry University

The Business Analysis Conference Europe 2018

Following on from my earlier posts about convergence, creativity, customer focus, and empathy, this article looks at another of the themes which was prevalent throughout the Business Analysis Europe Conference 2018: Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
As the first month of the year draws to a close, with the threat of freezing temperatures and snow, many of us may find our resolve to stick to a new year programme of healthy eating, more exercise and quitting our vices of choice tested. The desire to curl up in front of the fire with a drink and some comfort food may well become harder to resist as temptation knocks on the snow-laden window.
But not all resolutions are about quitting bad habits. Many of us will have started the year with goals to learn a new skill, gain a new qualification or simply to learn something new and certainly many of the speakers at last year’s Business Analysis Conference 2018 appeared to advocate this as a personal goal.

CPD outside the box

Indeed much of the focus of Sir Clive Woodward’s inspiring keynote talk on the morning of Day 2 was on ‘relentless learning’; a lifelong practice of curiosity, seeking out new knowledge and dedicating time and energy to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). However, Sir Clive advocated thinking outside of the box with your learning as skills and knowledge which may initially seem irrelevant to your role, may give you unexpected benefits. I believe that this is particularly true today, with an unprecedented rate of technological change and new entrants to almost every industry seeking to disrupt the status quo, it is difficult to predict what skills any job role will require in the future.
Further to my earlier blog on convergence, I find it quite exciting that twelve years ago, the job roles of ‘Digital Marketing Manager’ or ‘Social Media Content Producer’ didn’t really exist. Where traditionally marketing and IT were somewhat separate entities, technological developments and the adoption of web technologies and digital marketing, have caused the two to converge. Many marketing roles require more technological knowledge and business-facing IT roles require more of an understanding of customer behaviour than perhaps ever before.
Sir Clive’s example of developing skills outside of your immediate field, was his experience of managing the England rugby team. When he took over management of the team, he bought a laptop for each team member and insisted that they learned how to use it; an unusual ask perhaps in an era where device ownership was significantly less pervasive than it is today. Facing scepticism from the team and critics alike, Woodward argued that ‘those that win at technology, tend to win’ and he was proved right.
In due course, a sophisticated sports monitoring software package arrived on the market, enabling video playback of a match, overlaid with data and analytics which could provide insight into player behaviour, strategy and tactics from both teams. With their new-found IT skills, the entire team were able to analyse, learn and understand their – and the opposing team’s – gameplay and input recommendations for improvements to tactics and strategy based upon this. Had the team constrained their skills development to the core skillset needed for playing rugby, it is likely that they would not have been able to embrace this technology, leverage its capabilities and collectively gain so much benefit and competitive advantage from its use.

Time and cost hacks for CPD

When it comes to finding ways to develop your skills, particularly when self-funding, it may seem that cost is prohibitive, but learning doesn’t need to be expensive. Platforms such as FutureLearn and the OU’s OpenLearn have a plethora of free, online courses at all levels, many of which are modules taken from current degree courses. There are also a number of free conferences and networking events for many industries and areas of interest. Jisc’s annual Digifest the Education sector is a personal favourite. Tools such as Eventbrite, Meetup or simply Google can all help you to find free events near you. Viewing videos on YouTube or TED can be another way of learning quickly and informally.
Time may be another factor that poses a barrier to CPD, but this is where digital technologies can really help. Many courses are now delivered digitally and can be consumed in bite-sized chunks at a time to suit you. This micro-learning is one of many trends towards digitisation and consumer-centred demand in learning technology and is brilliant for busy people to squeeze in some structured personal development throughout the course of the day. Do you find yourself scrolling endlessly through Facebook or LinkedIn? Why not switch one of those scrolling sessions to viewing a short training video? Better still if ‘spend less time on social media’ was one of your new year’s resolutions!
Learning doesn’t need to be structured either. The old adage ‘you learn something new every day’ is quite true, but often we don’t realise that we’re picking up new skills and learning new things. Putting aside a few minutes at the end of the day to consider what you’ve learnt and how you can apply it helps to identify these ‘on the job’ development opportunities. But what if you’re finding that you’re not learning anything new? Well, perhaps it’s time to start looking for new opportunities in or out of work to stretch, develop and grow yourself. Learning a new skill as a hobby can also open doors or show you new paths. You may enjoy your new sport, art or community hobby so much you may decide to make a career from it, or find a way to incorporate your new skillset learned from your hobby to enhance your job and career. For example, in my spare time, I perform as an actor in a theatre group. At work, I use the skills I’ve learned in my acting training when approaching public speaking or facilitating workshops. I also run training courses on this for my colleagues in order to share my somewhat unconventional skillset!
So to summarise, learning doesn’t necessarily need to be related to your day job. All new skills are valuable and as demonstrated by Sir Clive and the England rugby squad, you never know when you will use something that initially seems completely unrelated to your job. Take control of your own development by being mindful of opportunities when they present themselves to you and using digital platforms for free, quick micro learning that can fit into your life when and where it suits you.

Coming Soon…

We’re nearly at the end of my series of ‘Top Takeaways from the Business Analysis Conference 2018’, so thank you to everyone who has been following these blogs and commenting. For the final instalment on the theme of ‘Catastrophising’, I will be trying something a little different and not only creating my first vlog, but doing so from Death Valley in California and Red Rock Canyon in Nevada! Watch this space and all will become clear!
This blog first appeared on Rachel’s Linkedin blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Bursary helps winner gain Erasmus funding and secure a new role

Sarah Ames
Library Learning Services Support Officer
University of Edinburgh

Digital Humanities Congress 2018 – UCISA report

I was fortunate to be funded by UCISA to attend DHC2018 in Sheffield this year – the UK’s biennial digital humanities conference, which draws together a range of researchers, cultural heritage professionals and IT support workers.

Why DHC2018?

With the increasing use of computational methods in academic studies, research and teaching requires new modes of IT and library support, as well as new approaches to dealing with data: traditional divisions between technical services and libraries are conflated, leading to new ways of working and new areas to support.
I wanted to attend this conference to find out more about digital humanities research currently underway, and to learn about the new technologies, methods and approaches that characterise the field. The event provided an opportunity to hear from researchers and students working in this field to learn about their needs, as well as the chance to learn from other IT and library professionals, to share ideas, solutions and current best practice. Furthermore, I wanted to further understand the collaborative nature of digital humanities work, and how it could provide opportunities for Edinburgh’s converged library and IT services (‘Information Services Group’).

Professional development

The huge range of papers presented at the conference – from vast, collaborative research projects, to smaller individual studies – and the range of methods and technologies used by researchers, reiterated the many challenges and opportunities of this area for libraries and IT support.
The conference has inspired me to learn more about many of the tools and technologies being used, and to consider uses for these within the library, and as such has been a brilliant CPD opportunity – as it has helped me to identify even more CPD opportunities! Talking to people at DHC2018 highlighted other conferences in this area that I’d like to attend, and papers using programming languages such as Python and discussing issues cleaning large datasets have encouraged me to revisit and further my understanding of these topics. Furthermore, the event enabled me to meet other library and information professionals, including from Oxford and the British Library, and to discuss the similar challenges we all face, as well as to gain a greater understanding of researchers’ needs when accessing and using library and IT resources.

Sharing the experience

As well as testing my succinctness with tweeting from the event, UCISA encouraged me to blog about the event, which proved to be a really useful experience as this provided a useful opportunity to reflect on the main topics of the conference and sort through the wide range of topics presented.
Despite the variety of studies, a number of key themes emerged within the papers presented and discussions afterwards, enabling me to apply the topics at the conference directly back to work and discussions currently underway in the Library at Edinburgh University about how digital scholarship should be supported and considering potential uses of our new Digital Scholarship Centre.
Furthermore, the event has inspired a group of us from Edinburgh University to apply for and secure Erasmus funding to visit library ‘labs’ setups in the Netherlands (library labs are spaces – physical or digital, or both – which encourage and support the innovative use of library digital collections), to learn even more about how we can support the types of digital humanities research presented at DHC2018. And, as of 2019, I’ll be starting a new job working in digital scholarship and libraries: this has been a brilliant opportunity to learn more about the field and its challenges.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Making a difference in education beyond technology at DigPedLab 2018

Marcus Elliott
Digital Practice Adviser
Nottingham Trent University

 

 

Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018

In July 2018, I travelled out to the USA with the generous funding of UCISA to attend the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018 (DPL18). This blog post will be some of my reflections about what I took part in, learned, and applied.

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Bursary winner given Cardiff University ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’

Rhiannon Gillespie
Service Desk Advisor
Cardiff University

 

 

CISCO Live conference reflections

In June 2018 I was lucky enough to receive the UCISA bursary to go to the CISCO Live conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference brought together thousands of IT network professionals from all over the world to learn and discover new technologies. Five months later I have been reflecting on the benefits of the bursary and the conference.
As an individual it has helped me grow as a person as well as with my work. My main aim was to attend the ‘CISCO Empowered Women’s Network’ track and in doing so it has helped, especially with regards to my work. I always felt like I wasn’t allowed to fail and because of this I often didn’t try new things. The opportunity the bursary provided enabled me to push myself and when I returned to work I started a secondment in the network team. I felt far more confident in my abilities and it reflected in my work. I wrote about the ‘CISCO Empowered Women’s Network’ track in my UCISA blog.
I shared a lot of what I had learnt with my colleagues in the network team and my original team, the IT service desk, on my return from the conference. I discussed various new products that I had hands on experience with in the ‘World of Solutions’ and discussed future CISCO innovations and products that would be of use to our team. I am also looking at sharing what I learnt in a Q&A session at our university IT staff conference in January.
Everything I learnt has helped with my work and as a result I was nominated for and won an ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ at Cardiff University.
Following on from my experience of the bursary, I recently contributed to a session about potential future UCISA bursary schemes. I would encourage anyone to apply for the bursary, you learn so much and it gives a massive sense of achievement both in getting the bursary and then attending a conference you would have not been able to attend otherwise. It also really does make a difference to your personal and work life.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

A new way to build personas

Kat Husbands
Digital Content Officer
University of Glasgow

UX Week 2018: Tools we can use

Thanks to the UCISA bursary scheme, I was lucky enough to attend UX Week 2018 in San Francisco.
The best thing about going to conferences is meeting and learning from lots of lovely people who are trying to do the same things I try do to. UX Week surrounded me with hundreds of such lovelies, from all over the world, for 4 full-on days of talks, workshops and social events. It was big, bright and — in the best possible way — exhausting!
The other best thing about going to conferences is picking up new ideas and methods I can apply in my work. UX Week certainly lived up to its fantastic reputation for delivering ‘new tools you can put to use immediately’.  I took so many notes that I’m going to have split up my write up across several blog posts.
I’ll start with the ideas that lodged themselves the deepest; the ones my jetlagged brain still churns through at 3am.

Ditch the demographics: segment users by thinking style

For prospective applicants, instead of: ‘Lower GPO’ / ‘Higher GPO’ / ‘Older Student’ / ‘Low-Income’, Indi proposed: ‘Passionate About The Topic’ / ‘Means To An End’ / ‘Looking Forward To The University Experience’ / ‘Exploring Paths’.
Indi Young proposed this new way of building personas in her workshop Paying Better Attention to the Problem.
The idea stuck with me because I’ve really struggled with persona-building. Also because, marvellously, one of her slides covered the thinking styles of university applicants, making it instantly relatable.
During the University of Glasgow UX project, I don’t think it ever occurred to us to categorise our users as anything other than students at different levels of study, and staff in different job families. But when it came to assembling our ‘Digital Life’ interview findings into personas, we found it almost impossible to generalise within these broad categories.
Worse than that, in hindsight I see that personas based on these categories wouldn’t actually help me! I produce internally-facing content for our current students and staff, much of it quite technical. When I’m rewriting, for example, the instructions for connecting to campus wifi, how can I consider the need of First Year UGs vs. Final Year, PGRs vs. Professional Services Staff? They all just need to get connected!
But what about the needs of ‘Help, This Is My First Smartphone’ vs. ‘I Got This, Just Tell Me The Settings’? Now there are two groups I can work for 😃.
I’ve made up these thinking styles, but I fully intend to go back through the interviews we’ve done so far (you know, when I’ve got a spare month…) to identify our users’ real ones.

More tips for demographic-free persona building

  • No photos: Sophie Dennis has observed “One client used a photo of a young blonde-haired woman. That persona would get dismissed as ‘The Blonde.’”
  • Use gender-neutral names, or no names at all, and write bios in the first person
  • Phrase the thinking styles so that users would be happy to identify with them
  • Understand that one person can switch between multiple thinking styles depending on the circumstances.

Empathy = listening

Indi also went into great and fascinating detail on the concepts of cognitive bias, empathy, separating the problem space from the solution space, and how a UX designer should aim to be “woke”:
  • Try not to fall prey to cognitive bias
  • Recognise what systemic bias is
  • Aim for more goals than only ROI
  • Avoid using demographics to refer to a user
  • Be aware that your own culture is one of many.
More on UX Week to follow.
This blog post first appeared on the UofG UX blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

The 2018 Business Analysis Europe Conference – a plan is formed

Rachel Drinkwater
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University

Creating a well-rounded agenda

Earlier this year I was granted a bursary by UCISA to attend the IRM Business Analysis Europe Conference 2018, which is to be held in Westminster, London on the 24th-26th September 2018. Having worked as a business analyst for the last fifteen years, this conference has naturally been on my radar as a ‘must do’, but the cost has been prohibitive, so I’m delighted and excited to be able to finally attend.
One of the conditions of my bursary is that I will disseminate my learning from the conference to others in the education sector. Taking this further I’m hoping to combine the knowledge and ideas that I gain from the conference with those I have from my own experience to create a blog series, instructional vlogs and infographics to share with my network both in education and wider industry.  In addition to this, I intend to devise a session to present at upcoming conferences.
I’ve pre-selected my conference sessions and rather than focusing on one of the five streams (‘BA Careers’, ‘Techniques’, ‘People’, Innovation’ and ‘The BA Conference Through the Years’), I’ve instead aimed to create a well-rounded agenda for the three days I will be attending.
Day 1 will start with a practical and energetic-sounding full-morning session on ‘Gamestorming’  (I’m hoping there will be plenty of coffee to facilitate this!). I’m intrigued by the Gamestorming concept and how it differs from the workshop facilitation and requirements elicitation techniques which form what I consider to be one of my core skill sets. Even if it transpires to be the same practice rebadged, I’m expecting to learn some new techniques that I can bring straight back into the office and perhaps include in the public speaking skills workshops that I am delivering at the moment.
My afternoon is set to keep the hands-on approach, looking at ‘Digital Customer Journeys’. As one of my personal areas of interest is digital transformation and strategy, my agenda inevitably has a little bias towards those sessions addressing new ways of working in and the challenges posed by our digitally-focused society.
As if to illustrate that point, I’m starting Day 2 with the ‘The Digital BA’ session within the ‘BA Careers’ workstream. A question that is raised time and again on BA forums and in industry at the moment is ‘What does the digital world mean to us and our practice as Business Analysts?’ I am hoping that the discussions within this session will go some way to uncovering the answer. In fact I’m feeling a blog article coming on with that exact title! The remainder of my day is split between some core BA sessions within the ‘Techniques’ and ‘Innovation’ workstreams; investigating how to approach projects where there are no clear requirements  and managing difficult agile projects and some intriguing-sounding neuro linguistic programming sessions.
My choices for Day 3 kick off with a session within the ‘BA Careers’ workstream led by fellow education Business Analysts, Ed O’Regan and Suzi Jobe, from Nottingham Trent University, entitled ‘From Analyst to Strategist’. As I have progressed from business analyst to senior business analyst in my career, I’ve found that involvement in strategic work is forming an ever-increasing part of my role and it is certainly the direction in which I’m aiming to take my career. In addition to this, at Coventry University we are moving the Business Analysis team towards being a more strategic function and as such I’m keen to hear other organisations’ experiences of this approach. This links quite nicely with the following ‘Innovation’ session in which we will look at ‘Emerging Technology and the BA of the Future’.
To conclude my choices for the conference, I will be attending the very exciting-sounding ‘Stakeholder Skills for Drug Busts – Reflections on Dealing with Difficult People in Dangerous Situations’ delivered by former Police Officer, Charlie Payne. Whilst it’s unlikely that I’ll ever encounter a Breaking Bad-style scenario in the office, conflict does happen and I’m hoping to learn some skills and techniques to defuse and handle such occurrences.
Amidst this action-packed agenda, there are some excellent keynote speakers, a number of networking opportunities and of course the obligatory first night drinks reception. I wholly expect to be catching the train home on Wednesday evening exhausted, but brimming with ideas and inspiration, that I will be distilling into some interesting and informative materials to share with you all. Watch this space and follow me on Twitter at @REDrinkwater to read about what I’ve found out and my thoughts and theories on the content from the three days.
This blog post first appeared on: https://racheldrinkwater.com/the-2018-business-analysis-europe-conference-a-plan-is-formed/
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Making the most of a UCISA bursary award at ALT 2018

Marieke Guy
Learning Technologist
Royal Agricultural University

Planning for ALT 2018

It’s only 12 days and 17 hours till ALT 2018 – ALT’s 25th annual conference and the biggest meet up of Learning Technologists this side of the Atlantic (possibly?)
I have been lucky enough to be funded to attend by the UCISA bursary scheme and I intend to make good use of my subsidized ticket.
There is so much on it’s hard to know where to start but in traditional festival fashion I have a list of potential topics and sessions, though who knows what will happen when I actually get there!
Student engagement – At the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) we really want to get better at asking the students what they think. This year we ran the Jisc digital student experience and it was both enlightening and a little scary. I’d like to hear more about how other institutions have been using their data so will be attending Rating their digital experience – what do our students really, really want?.   I might follow this up with What organisational variables support a positive student digital experience? – which also looks at the broader tracker data. The session on Students as partners in technology initiatives: How does the technology aspect affect partnerships, and how can we make the most of this? also looks interesting.
Staff  digital skills – We also need to improve our staff digital literacy so the session on Witchcraft to Wonder – My journey empowering staff with technology sounds like a definite.
Data – I’m a big data fan and it is an area we’d like to explore at RAU. The session on Getting to grips with Learner Dashboards: a research informed critical approach to understanding their potential will be useful as does the well-named session Honey I shrunk the data: small design steps towards a data-informed blended learning approach .  I might also attend the workshop session on Using learning analytics to inform evidence-based interventions on live courses. Hopefully we can get some dashboards up and running in the next year.
VR – Virtual Reality offers so much potential. I’m hoping the Creating VR: what we learned along the way session will give some good pointers on how to get started. There is also Virtual Learning Environments: Walking in the Park or Wandering in the Jungle?. Sounds appropriate for an agricultural university!
Multimedia – Video is where it’s at. If I get time I will take a look at OSCEs at the Oscars: how video assessment has stolen the show and I like the look of the workshop Capturing Imaginations: Why it’s important to consider alternative uses of (lecture) capture technologies .
Distance learning and course design – For the Catalyst project, we need to design four blended learning programmes from scratch so any ideas are useful. I might try OSCAR: A Structured Approach to Course Design. We also know that we will be using ePortfolios for a considerable chunk of the assessments and the talk on Eportfolios in placements: unlocking the potential through collaboration could prove useful.
I’ll also be catching the keynotes from the fantastic all-female line up: Dr Tressie McMillan Cottom, Dr Maren Deepwell and Amber Thomas.

I will be presenting a poster during the poster and talk session entitled From little acorns…growing a learning technology culture.  If you’d like to discuss what it’s like being part of a one-person team then please find me. As I explain in the brief the poster is “of interest to anyone who wants to hear about how ‘more with less’ is possible if you make the most of collaborations and outside help. There will be lots of useful tips and far too many agriculture analogies!” I’ll post up my poster as soon as it’s finished.
Of course, as we all know the networking opportunities are what really make a conference. The Awards Evening and Dinner at the Midland Hotel will be great and I’m looking forward to hearing who has been voted ALT Learning Technologist of the Year.
I’ll also be catching up with my fellow UCISA bursary winner Karl Luke (Business Change Officer from Cardiff University). Karl and I bumped into each other at the recent Panopto user group meet up in Birmingham. We’ll clink glasses on behalf of UCISA!
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.