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Digital Capabilities Survey

In 2014 the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group (then the User Skills Group) launched the inaugural Digital Capabilities survey of the UK higher education sector. The survey focussed on what has been variously referred to as digital capabilities, digital literacies or digital competencies. The need to improve the country’s digital capabilities has been highlighted in a House of Lords committee report published in February 2015. Make or break: the UK’s digital future notes that the higher education sector “has not responded to the urgent need for reskilling” and calls for institutions to develop courses to give students the skills they need.

The survey sought to establish how institutions are developing staff and students to perform efficiently and effectively in the digital environment. It complements the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) survey that the UCISA Academic Support Group carries out but looks at broader digital capabilities rather than TEL software and approaches.

The Group presented the initial findings from the survey in a webinar held on 3 December 2014 with the full report published on 1 June 2015 to coincide with the Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event held at MediaCityUK, Salford. The conclusions from the report were publicised at conferences throughout 2015 and were supplemented by a number of case studies.

The 2017 Survey was launched on 10 October 2016. The Survey was revised to take into account feedback on the previous Survey and current initiatives and context. The Survey was sent to nominated lead respondents at each institution.


An Executive Summary Report, with recommendations, was published to accompany the full length Survey Report.


With the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) placing emphasis on skills (for both students and staff), innovation and the overall teaching environment, it will be interesting to see whether this is having any impact on the importance of digital capabilities within our institutions. A blog post considers the relationship between the TEF and digital capabilities.


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