Yesterday I spent the day chairing the UCISA Executive meeting in London. Two interesting discussions, the first on the proposed changes to the way JANET delivers our network services at the regional level. I've blogged about this before, and it is still rumbling on. There is still a lot of concern in the community about the proposals, especially around how some of the additional services provided by the current MANs will continue. I took part in a meeting some weeks ago with the Chief Executive of JANET where we outlined some of the communities concerns - I felt it was a positive and productive meeting, and we did get a response - both the concerns and the reply are here. Since then JANET has produced a white paper which provides a lot more information on the rationale behind the proposed changes and the intial outcomes of the consultation. We agreed at the UCISA meeting yesterday that we need to look forward, and make sure that we get the best possible service for our members, whilst protecting our costs.
The other major discussion was with the recently appointed Chief Executive of HESA. Alison Allden. As a former IT Director and a Director of Information Services, Alison is one of us, and it's great to have her in this post. She outlined her vision and some of the issues facing the sector in the area of information collection and management, and we had some questions for her. Many of the issues which Alison had identified were the same as we had, so there's a lot of common thinking. We covered HESA's relationship with our institutions as well as its relationship with its statutory customers - the funding councils. Interestingly when I asked people here what issues they wanted raising, most were around amount of data being collected, the detail of the data and some of the data definitions - all of which are actually set by the funding councils, not HESA. There was a concern on both sides of the amount of returns we have to do, and why HESA can't collect it all, to a common set of standards and then reuse it. A very useful discussion and I'm optimistic that UCISA and HESA will be able to work together to iron out some of the issues to benefit us both.
The other major topic was our Annual Conference - the place to be next March. Bookings have just opened, the programme is looking good, and it's in Harrogate. What more could you want?