Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Final thoughts on strategy forum

A quick round up of a couple of other sessions from the Higher Education Strategy Forum, and a summary of thoughts about the event.

We had a really good session from the VC of the University of Greenwich on Universities in the Digital Age. He outlined the key drivers that are impacting us at the moment, ( these are not new btw...)
Cloud computing, Mobile, Social Media, Openness and MOOCs and how we can turn our Information Systems from liabilities to assets
His conclusions were that the speed of technology development is scary but exciting, student expectations are high and Universities are struggling to keep up. His final point was that technology is a means to an end, not the end itself. which is of course true. Great talk from a VC who is obviously very clued  up about technology.

We also had a session from Chris Hale, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK about the efficiency agenda.
The Efficiency and Modernisation Task Force was established in 2010, (I was a member of it) and it produced a report with 17 recommendations, commonly referred to as the Diamond Report. It set out a challenging agenda and there have been several successful outcomes, especially around collaborative procurement where sector wide savings of £435m have been demonstrated in two years.
Phase 2 started in November 2013, which identified 6 key work streams and the report was published last week. You can download and read a copy from here. Starts with an interesting infographic about the economic impact of Higher Education.

As well as the sessions I've posted about, we had a number of presentations from the vendors who had sponsored the event, individual business meetings with them and a "speed dating" hour where each vendor had 4 minutes to pitch to a small group of us. Overall I found it very useful. It wasn't just aimed at IT Directors, and there were VCs, PVCs, Deans and Directors of other professional services there, so some good networking opportunities. Most of the vendors were also pretty clued up on what we wanted to discuss. There were some excellent talks, and some not so good, quite a mixed bag, as often happens at these events. There were several things which could have been improved - the wifi coverage was dreadful, one of the days was too long( 0850 to 1905 with very short breaks only), and everything was very regimented. But, the venue was lovely, and when I did manage to escape for a short walk, I found this fantastic carpet of snowdrops and aconites under some trees.

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