Day 1 Thursday 12 October


Is transformation a dirty word? What university leaders want from digital infrastructure - and how to persuade them to pay for it!
Nick Skelton, Independent consultant in digital HE/ former Head of IT Infrastructure at University of Bristol

Digital infrastructure has long been critical for the day-to-day operations of universities. But viewing ‘infrastructure as plumbing’ can lead to underappreciated, downbeat and budget-starved infrastructure folk.

Thankfully this is changing. Digital is increasingly recognised as part of institutional strategy. It enables entirely new ventures, like online programmes. Digital is a tool for growth.

Nick recently interviewed HE leaders on behalf of Jisc. He found a new generation who get digital and are making digital mainstream. Nick will reflect on how we can take that enthusiasm, understand what universities require, and get the resources to put it into practice.

A connected approach to digital transformation in higher education
David Myers, CIO, Lancaster University; Col Campbell, Technological Strategy and Digital Transformation Partner; and Jon Garritty, Director, Project and Portfolio Management, KPMG

Digital transformation strategies in higher education need to take a connected, institution-wide approach, whilst maintaining security and sustainability. One where students, academics and key-user groups needs are aligned to strategic objectives and prioritised to maximising the benefits of the digital infrastructure.

To highlight the impact of having a digitally enabled data-driven strategy, we will be sharing our experience of working with Lancaster University, David Myers the CIO who will join us to share his insight on how he has shaped the strategy and roadmap, making life easier for students and staff through a modernised technology infrastructure. We’ll share how the university worked towards strategy implementation, the progress on delivery to date and what the expected outcomes.

How we've saved Glasgow's Technologists > 365 days of monotony per year
Mark Temple, Assistant Director Service Management, University of Glasgow

You are too busy with too many demands on your time, and requests for growth are often challenging, so you need to find better ways of servicing demands from the community - see real-world examples of using your Service Management system to automate request fulfilment; saving time, money and effort for students, staff, service desk, and resolver groups. Give your Service Desk the power to execute the actions that they historically escalated to SMEs.> £100,000 of savings for < £100 of development time...On top of this, use your KnowledgeBase to power your web pages - and a robot...

Parallel sessions

  • Sustainable HPC in Sweden (Meeting Room Four)
    Richard Fuller, Assistant Director of IT (Infrastructure); and Emma Barnes, Head of Research IT, University of York

    It started with an idea and now we're doing it, moving the University's HPC provision to a better-than-net-zero data centre in the heart of Sweden. Hear about the challenges we've faced along the way and the opportunities we've taken and learn from our mistakes if you decide to do this yourself!
  • Agile Transformation - “It’s a marathon (and a sprint)” (Ashtead Suite)
    Sophie Harrison, Director of Agile Product Delivery; and Mohammed Aufogul, Head of Technical Design and Delivery, University College London

    Why are you not already doing agile? Agile could revolutionize the way you deliver; Operational teams already function in this way!!!!. Sophine and Mohammed will take you on the journey UCL have been on with a true reflection on the journey focusing on setting goal, allowing to fail & learning from mistakes & celebrating success


Detect, neutralise and counter threats - how to overcome your unique security challenges
Julie Swinbank, Higher Education Practice Lead and Kieran Fowler, Head of Cyber Consulting, Waterstons

Universities face heightened security challenges due to their often open and complex digital environments, meaning effective security tools are required to protect your institution. We want to dissect these unique challenges; by harnessing technology, we'll help you understand how you can streamline risk management, and equip your security teams to identify and counter real threats effectively. Using AlienVault, we’ll present a live demonstration of a leading SIEM technology adept at managing common alerts in the higher education sector, and will illuminate how AlienVault swiftly detects and neutralizes threats, distinguishing between activities that would typically be flagged elsewhere, and actual harmful actions

Digital Transformation – an 18 year infrastructure journey
Jodie Wetherall, Associate Director - Office of the CIO and Jason Scates, Head of Platforms & Research Systems, University of Greenwich

The University of Greenwich share their 18 year journey of digital transformation and how their approach to scalable and resilient infrastructure provides the core foundations onto which successful transformation is underpinned.

AI wrote my speech but ate my cat. A guide to cyber threats in 2023
NCSC Representative

A view of the cyber threat to the UK in 2023 and how the NCSC is working with higher and further education to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.


Day 2 Friday 13 October

Transforming Identity: The Soft Infrastructure of IT
Tim Purkiss, Platform Owner: Identity and Access Management, University College London

Whether conspicuous or hidden, IAM practices are crucial to effective IT operations, allowing people to safely and securely access what they need when they need it. But they are also often taken for granted, overlooked or neglected. Tim will look at how UCL is starting to transform its IAM services by focussing on automation, simplification, standardisation and return on investment, and by doing so is helping support broader transformation efforts across the University. He will also look at the importance of effective IAM in the HE environment and dwell on challenges and opportunities we face to get IAM right, and suggest that treating identity as a form of "soft infrastructure" can help people better to understand and appreciate its importance to IT service delivery.

Streamlining University Admissions with Automation: Enhancing Efficiency and Accuracy
Melissa Adey, Pre-Enrolment Product Lead; and Sarah Mulroy, Data Science & Analytics Product Lead, Tribal Group

University admissions are a complex and time-consuming process involving a vast amount of data and requiring high accuracy. With the increasing number of applications, it has become a challenge for universities to handle the process efficiently. Universities also need to keep pace with rule changes without reducing the number of enrolled students per year. The best way to tackle this issue in a cost-effective manner is through the use of cloud-based systems and automated processes. With the right technology in place, you can create a seamless experience for prospective students, manage a larger number of applications without increasing staff workload, improve the performance of your admissions process, and stay ahead of the competition.

Automate first, optimise later: exploring how we resist the urge to process improve before deploying virtual workers
Nicola Cairns, Automation Pipeline and Adoption Support Lead and Jane Money, Operational Excellence Lead, University of Glasgow

At the University of Glasgow, we have embraced the principle “Automate first, optimise second” as we establish our Automation Service. We’ll share our reasoning, reflections, and insights on the sometimes controversial topic of avoiding extensive process improvement before implementing Robotic Process Automation. Through this approach we’ve been able to deploy automations that have quickly unlocked efficiencies and expedited other benefits across various university functions. This has enabled teams to engage more effectively with change, utilise their management information to enhance services, and focus on more value-add activities. Join us as we consider the advantages in adopting this mindset.

Parallel sessions

  • Autopkg and CI - Keeping your Mac Software Portfolio updated
    Tim Grebien, Digital Architect Apple/Linux, University of Wolverhampton

    Keeping software titles on the latest versions can be a time-consuming job. We are going to build a workflow that mostly automates the whole lifecycle of a software title from download to deployment of a new package version using autopkg, continuous integration pipelines, and Jamf Patch Management.


Digital Sustainability
Stella Poole, Head of Core Systems, University of Birmingham

Digital sustainability refers to the responsible use of technology and digital resources to minimise environmental impact and promote sustainable development. This presentation highlights the importance of digital sustainability in the modern era and explores how technology can contribute to environmental sustainability. It covers various initiatives such as renewable energy adoption, energy efficiency measures, circular economy practices, and virtualisation. A case study on Google's commitment to digital sustainability is presented. It discusses the challenges of e-waste, energy consumption, and the digital divide. Future trends and opportunities, including IoT, AI, and data analytics, are explored. The presentation concludes by emphasising the need for collaborative efforts to create a greener, more sustainable world.

How to prepare for the future - the case for end to end change
Cat McCusker, Partner and Education Lead Consulting, PwC; joined by a partner institution

We’d like to share our views on the challenges but crucially the opportunities related to end to end technology-led transformation. Based on our own and Gartner research and our experience of partnering with education and other institutions, we’ve seen many examples of institutions failing to realise the full benefits of technology led transformation because they focus on one specific area of functionality rather than on the end to end experience - which is increasingly seen by analysts as inevitable within education. Please join us to hear the case for bigger, bolder change and what you can do to prepare for it.

Collaboration - Estates and IT
Mohammed Aufogul, Head of Technical Design and Delivery, University College London

Estates and IT have traditionally worked independently of each other coming together at the end of a project to delivering the outcome. However, with advances in technology, Building Management Systems (BMS) and the move towards Smart building the need for both organisations to collaborate has become more prevalent. See how UCL has gone on the journey of collaboration between, IT, Estates and beyond with partners. This journey is illustrated with real life examples and showcases the amazing outcomes that can be achieved when collaboration takes place.

Digital Transformation – a CIO perspective
Emma Woodcock, CIO, York St John University and James Crooks, CIO, Durham University

It’s widely appreciated amongst our IT communities that digital is very much a “team sport”, relying on high levels of engagement and leadership from all areas of the organisation. Of course, that’s easier said than done - with varying levels of technical aptitude, digital confidence, and tech awareness across our University communities, driving an institution-wide digital strategy certainly isn’t easy! During this session, Emma and James will share their experiences of the various challenges, opportunities, successes – and failures - of leading digital transformation in Higher Education.