Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Opening keynote - UCAS

Well, UCISA 2015 has started. I've given my opening address welcoming everyone here and thanking the volunteers, and we've had an excellent welcome from the VC of Herriot Watt, Julian Jones. He emphasised that technology is at the heart of what we do. Fewer organisations have seen a greater rate of change than universities, and the reatest part of that change is in technology. he also said that he'd never been to a conference before where the programme had been reorganised to cope with a solar eclipse, and thought that we were his sort of people!

Opening keynote was from Mary Curnock Cook, Chief Executive of UCAS. Here's some notes from her talk.
The UCAS mission is to inspire and facilitate progression in education through information and admissions services,
It's a charity, with a commercial subsidiary, operating in Cheltenhem with 450 employees. As a charity, it is regulated. Have to report on the public benefit they deliver. So, they have to help learners progress etc.Not just about admissions.

They have no government funding.

Serve 163 universities, 167 university colleges and colleges offering HE.  c700 other HE providers
In 1962, less than 100,000 applicants. Now 700,000. . Much more diverse now.
In 62, nearly all men. Now more women then men, also worrying.
First shared service, argueably the most successful.
Business processes almost the same now as 62.
UCAS one of busiest web sites in country.
Now offer advice for post GCSE, not just HE. Advice on apprenticeships etc.
Trying to get good advice to kids earlier.
Big social media presence

On just  one day in August....
5m exam results
239 log ins per second
18000 phone call
1.25m log ins to Track

Thanks for the cloud. No way they could afford to gear up server capacity for this short time of capacity.

Key drivers of change in applications is not fees
Changing qualification landscape.
No of BTecs going up. Now 100,000 people coming into HE with BTEcs.
Demographics, no of 18 year olds dropping. No of vocational qualifications growing.
Big challenge for selecting organisations.

UCAS IT function is complex!
Moving to SOA.
Building a profile based on a learners journey.
Thought they would spend 50% on core services, and 50% on change
Closer to 90:10. Transformation plans slipping away. Every year something would go wrong with legacy systems.
So, proposed digital acceleration
Increase investment in short term. Every pound spent on legacy system is a pound wasted,
Need to increase velocity of change.
Used to traditional approach to project management - waterfall, prince2 but this eant working. 
So, moved to Agile. Embrace change, quality comes from feedback. Adapt as you go along. Collect information as you learn. Deliver working software as early as possible and as often as possible with feedback loop built in.
Good diagram of the benegits of Agile:

At "Wagile" at the moment, bit waterfall, but agile.
Gradually rolling it out.
Keeping an eye for what they want at the end

It's all about culture and mindset, not IT.

Great opening keynote.

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