A couple of visits to Faculties this morning - first was a strategic liaison meeting with Social Sciences. We talked about the key challenges facing us and our plans for the next year. A tension which is apparent in all of our discussions at the moment is that we know the HE sector is facing financial pressures, and we need to plan for cuts, but Faculties can plan to expand, whether its student numbers or research. That's not really an option for us in the Professional Services. In order to protect our support for teaching and learning and research we may have to look at reducing support in other areas - or looking at different ways of sourcing services.
We also discussed a number of new developments, including upgrades to our VLE, uSpace and our CMS - all happening in the next few weeks - discussion focused on the effect they will have on academics in particular and the benefits they will bring. We also covered our common timetabling project, and possible future developments in student assessments. We had a good discussion about support for research, especially in terms of data storage - there's still too many departments storing their own data on departmental servers with the associated security and business continuity risks.
After that we visited Engineering, and covered a number of areas, many to do with infrastructure and space. Space for large groups of IT- enabled teaching is a particular issue, and we're looking at more innovative ways of using space - by using laptops in laboratory space for example. We're investing quite heavily this year in expanding our wireless network to facilitate this. Re-equipping lecture theatres, using lecture capture software and improving access to software from laptops is also high on our agenda to give more flexibility in use of space.