I'm in sunny Oxford for a UCISA Executive meeting at the moment - this is the second of our major planning meetings of the year and will be focusing on links with other organisations. We'll be talking to the Director of Research, Innovation and Skills from HEFCE, and the Executive Secretary of JISC, as well as discussing our relationship with JANET, and touching on Shared Services.
As I've had a couple of hours between meetings, I've been reflecting on what being Chair of UCISA for the last year has been like. It's gone quickly - that's the first point to note - and I can't believe I've got less that a year to go. It's also been busy. As well as attending the executive meetings, I've been to most of the other conferences, including CISG and the Advisory and Support staff symposium, and been a part of other consultation groups. Speaking at conferences and symposia has always been something I've enjoyed, and this has also increased - I'm currently preparing 4 talks to be given in the next couple of months. Well, I say preparing - I'm thinking about it.
Taking part in and influencing various initiatives and consultations is part of UCISA's role, and the permanent staff do a great job of drawing up responses to many documents, and i have been involved as much as I can. A particular issue this year has been the Digital Economy Bill (now Act), which as regular readers of this blog will know, I was particularly enamoured with!
Building relationships and networking is an important part of UCISA's role, and over the last year we've met with JANET ,and AHUA. This year I particularly want to get a relationship going with the heads of University Estates departments, AUDE. Most IT department have to work very closely with their estates department colleagues, and I think it's important that we understand each other and our issues better.
So, my last year as Chair is starting, and I am looking forward to it, but with a bit of trepidation. There are difficult times ahead for the HE sector, and they will affect us all. There's an important role for IT departments to play in helping our institutions do more (or even the same) with less. We'll need to work together and share best practice more than ever. I heard a quote a few weeks ago along the lines of "there will be no need for the government to divide and rule us when we seem quite capable of doing that to ourselves." UCISA represents the whole community, and through its groups and activities can help to bring us together to ensure that we collaborate, communicate and influence decisions that might affect us.