Today we had a departmental meeting, always a good turn out, and today we had our Registrar Dr Phil Harvey, as a guest to speak to us. He gave a very good overview of our current situation in terms of student admissions and issues we might face over the coming years as some of the recent changes such as fees and the AAB numbers take effect. He outlined some of the investments we're making as part of the capital programme, particularly in Engineering, where we're investing heavily in order to grow our student numbers - about £150m on a number of developments including a new building to house specialist engineering labs, teaching space including lecture theatres and seminar rooms, and importantly for us, a large amount of student led learning space. Or Information Commons space, as we like to call it. We'll be able to build on our 5 years of experience of our existing IC, and design something even more exciting. Phil also commented on our recent social media success, which he described as me finding a league table that puts us in the same top ten as Harvard! I shall have to keep my eyes open for more.
A good Q and A session followed, and Phil then presented our ABBAs, Above and Beyond Awards, nominated by anyone in the department. Some well deserving nominees, and very difficult to chose between them, but we had a winner in each category. Gary Helliwell for exceptional work dealing with a network outage caused by a flood on Christmas Day, Tom Jenkins for his expert help and advice on all things Google, and the Drama Studio front of house staff for excellent service.
Next up was me talking about our planning statement we've just submitted. All Professional Service departments submit one each year to a standard template covering a review of the past year, key aims and objectives for the following year, and our view of the external environment in which we are operating and how we might need to react to it. What struck me was how many things we have on our "external environment" list. Here's a sample:
Consumerisation of IT
Rise in ownership of smart, mobile devices
Bring your own device and support issues
Increasing user expectations and increasingly discerning customers
Changes to working practices, more mobile, flexible, remote
Data storage demand increasingly hugely
Increased demand for collaboration internal, national and international
Pace of change of technology
Critical nature of IT infrastructure and expectation of always on always connected
Compliance with increasing legislation, eg KIS, UKBA, HEAR
Different service delivery models, cloud, shared, outsourced
That's just a selection and quite a list. In order to respond, some key things we need to do are become more agile, more flexible, more facilitative rather than proscriptive. We need to support and promote innovation, especially rapid development, and consider all forms of service delivery. Mobile needs to be built into everything, and the student experience put at the forefront in all areas. We also need to play a leading role in the efficiency agenda, which we'll be doing mainly though our new LEAN Unit, but through other techniques as well.
I'll cover some of the other areas presented at the meeting in a separate post. This one looks as though it's getting a bit long!
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