Friday, 14 August 2015


Really important day yesterday - confirmation and clearing. The day prospective students get their A level results and find out of they've got a place at their chosen University, or a place at all. If they haven't they go into clearing (and adjustment, which is relatively new). Like many Universities we set up a call centre in one of our IT spaces to handle the calls.

All extremely professionally done, a real team effort between the Admissions team, CiCS and Epigenysis.

One of the main impacts on us is the phone system, but our new monitoring system helps us manage that.

Of course, refreshments have to be provided, and my only real job today is to take them donuts, cookies, fruit and cheese.

I know my place :-)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Diamond progess

I was lucky enough to be shown round The Diamond again yesterday - it's really looking stunning now, and coming along well. We're in there sorting networks out and installings and imaging PCs.

The team are doing a great job, theres a lot of hardware to get in - look at this plan of just one floor and what we're installing.

Took some pictures, but thought I'd share some facts and figures with you first, which CiCS colleagues will recognise from an excellent presentation at a recent departmental meeting. As well as purpose built state of the art engineering labs, there'll be the following spaces we have an interest in:

9 Lecture Theatres - Seating up to 1680 students
4 Flexible Teaching Spaces - Seating up to 388 students
3 IT Lab Facilities - Seating up to 252 students

9 Open Plan/Silent Study Areas - Seating up to 513 students
9 Group Study Rooms - Seating up to 73 students
10 Breakout Rooms - Seating up to 90 people
Virtual Reality Lab & Flight Simulator

Creative Media Facilities including:
  8 Media Booths
  TV Studio
  Large Media Editing Suite
  Small Media Editing Suite
  Large Range of Loanable Recording Equipment
  Open  24/7 with staff support 9-5

Quite a range of incredible spaces!  There'll be 20 data cabinets in it, over 3.500 data outlets and nearly 200 wireless access points.

So - the latest pictures;

View across the atrium to the spiral staircase and one of the pods

One of our study areas

The Electronics Lab


Looking over a pod to St George's Church

One of the computer rooms showing the installed PCs

..and the number of boxes we have to get rid of

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Prioritisation and a joker

We had a SSB this week - Service Strategy Board, and high on the agenda was how we prioritise projects. What factors to take into account, what is the relative priority of our existing projects, and where do new ones fit. A lot of preliminary work has already been done, and we have a priority list already - based on a number of criteria, including whether something is statutory or strategic, and what is its reach and impact. Whether they are the right criteria is of course still up for discussion. I'd like to see more account taken of innovation and improving the user experience,  but there is still some more work to do.  I was amused to see that there was the provision for a wildcard, or joker, which I was told I could only use once ;-)  We also looked at the large pieces of work we do in the department that aren't classed as projects, and how we prioritise them. Perhaps the first question might be, why aren't they classed as projects? In some organisations any piece of work that takes more than a certain number of days is classed as a project. This work is linked to discussions that have been taking place on how we handle the workload in the development team and how that is prioritised.

Then yesterday we had a internal discussion following the workshop a couple of weeks ago on Digital Transformation, and how some of the work we want to do in this area sits with the priorities work. Given that what we want to do by setting up some sort of Digital and Innovation team is work in a Mode 2 way (if you're talking Biomodal working), does this sit completely outside this work?  We also looked at some of the work that we might do under the umbrella "Digital transformation", and the resources we might need to do it.

All matters for discussion over the coming weeks.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Concepts in concrete

Quick round up of the week - lots of meetings, mainly with heads of departments as I'm trying to get round all of them before the end of the summer.  Interesting going into departments, some of which I haven't been to for a long time, or even at all, and I've only got lost once so far.  Lots of things to discuss with all of them. Some issues in common with many of them, some more specific to their specialism.

One of the things I've been amazed at, but not sure why I am, is how differently departments do things. We have systems for example for Student  Attendance Monitoring (SAM) and Assessments (DAS), but they are used in completely different ways by departments, if they are used at all. Many told me that had invented their own system for doing things, others still relied on old fashioned bits of paper. Something that our new Student System will hopefully address.

One topic that is always interesting is talking to them about research IT support. We have provided support in this area for a long time, but not as much as we should have been doing, and we will be increasing the size of our research IT team considerably over the next two years. This has gone down extremely well with departments who are looking forward to the closer working relationship we will be able to establish with them. In fact, everyone has said how much closer they'd like to work with us which is really positive.

Some departments have given me a tour and talked a lot about the research they do. And in some I've been able to see student work. This is definitely a prompt for us all to get out more into departments and see the great stuff they're doing, and connect with them in a much more local way.

This is in Landscape Architecture, on the 14th floor of the Arts Tower, a fantastic view, and a display of student work, including some interesting concepts of what you can do with concrete!