Thursday, 29 October 2015
Today we had a conference call with another University who are arranging a major incident simulation and wanted our advice on how to organise it - I think we were able to give them plenty. We've had a lot of practice recently!
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
I also met the Vice-Chancellor for a regular catch up where we discussed a Digital Strategy for the University.
Following that I went to our UEB/HoDS forum where our Executive Board and heads of department meet to discuss different topics. This time we were looking at student recruitment. In particular, what was more important, quantity or quality. Should we take more students, no matter what grades they have, or take only the higher graded students to keep our tarif score up. After a couple of presentations we had a lively discussion on the tables - I'm not sure we came to a conclusive answer though!
Finally today I had a meeting with an IT Director from another Institution. Newly appointed she was keen to catch up with what's happening in the sector, and it was a very useful exchange of ideas.
Thursday, 22 October 2015
So, we arrived, and this was the calm before the storm....
After a short briefing we were off. Thank goodness I wasn't Incident Manager, but part of a standby team - in a separate room, waiting to be called. We were played a short radio clip, supposedly from Radio Sheffield about 4 students being arrested at dawn, supposedly from University accommodation, and not given much more information. NOTE - THIS WAS A SIMULATION - IT DIDN'T REALLY HAPPEN. Sorry about the shouting. Apparently simulations have been known to become real incidents when information has leaked and people haven't realised. As well as the information we were drip fed, we also had a twitter feed to follow. Four members of CiCS had 10 fake twitter accounts with different profiles - students, staff, local resident, journalist etc - and tweeted from them from the duration of the incident. We had the incident team in one room, and the comms team in another. The whole thing was a test of how we would repond to an incident receiveing a lot of media and social media attention, when we had little information. I was late to be called, so I did what I would have done in real life, and stormed in asking what was going on :-) Then I was asked to step outside (for a breath of fresh air) and was doorstepped by a BBC journalist complete with camera and microphone and had to give a live interview.
Later we had a press conference, with an elected spokesperson and a number of nasty journalists in the audience (including me).
It was very tiring, stressful, enjoyable, interesting - and a great test of how we might cope. Somethings went really well, others could do with improving, but that's what it was for - to learn from.
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Based on the theme of the mobile workforce, they had mocked up how the technology could be used in an airport, a warehouse, a station, an office.... They'd also got some interesting virtual reality demos.
The presentations focused on the pace of change of technology and the rise of mobile technology at home and at work. Everyone wants and needs a mobile device - and just one. No-one wants a work one and a personal one, so we're in a world where personal data and mobile payments have to live in harmony with corporate systems and email. apparently 80% of people interviewed in a recent survey said that they couldn't do their job without mobile technology, but only 33% said that the technology they were provided with at work met their need. 29% said that they use their own mobile technology to fill gaps in work technology. Would be interesting to know what the figures would be if Universities were surveyed.
Thursday, 15 October 2015
A talk from the Director of Finance from HEFCE about how the funding environment has changed. You can see from this slide how the funding distributed by HECE has decreased, and how for the first time in 2015/16 they are distributing more research funding than teaching funding.
A session from the Chair of AUDE (Association of University Estates Directors) about how we have to deliver more value from our estate. Our estate is very big, and very costly so we have to drive as much value out of it as we can, by using as efficiently as possible, and looking for commercial opportunities.
An excellent talk from our own Deputy Vice Chancellor Shearer West, after only 6 weeks in post, on some of our excellent initiatives in student engagement. These included the #weareinternational campaign run jointly with our Student Union to raise the profile of what it meant to be a global university which now has over 100 universities supporting it. She also talked about our advanced apprenticeship scheme, SURE which provides research experience for undergraduates, and of course, the concept of the Sheffield Graduate. Good to see the Diamond get a mention too!
The closing keynote was David Willets, the former Minister for Universities and Science on the funding of university education - who benefits from it, and who should pay for it.
All in all an excellent day. I hadn't been to ExCel before - it's huge! And the show managed to pack a lot of high quality speakers into one day.
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
- Maintaining a high quality workforce.
- Delivering more value from our university estate. Will be more estate sharing. Need to utilise space better.
- Deliver a world class and sustainable research base. Need to make a robust case for greater investment in the research base.
- Harness the benefits of asset sharing.
- Unlock the value of higher education data. Huge opportunity in open data. Need to facilitate and stimulate greater use of open data.
- Collaborate! Need more collaboration and sharing of good practice.
Friday, 2 October 2015
After the excitement of the Diamond opening, the week went a bit downhill as I became strikes with a lurgy, commonly known as Freshers Flu. And yes, I know it's not flu, and it probably doesn't come from Freshers, but hey, it's just a name :-).
Managed to make my first meeting of the Board of Trustees of Inspiration for Life. I was honoroured to be asked to join this board of a charitable trust set up to celebrate the life of Tim Richardson, a Physics lecturer who died of cancer in 2013. Some of the readers of this blog might remember posts about the 24 hour lecture which is held every year to remember him and raise money for charitable causes.
Also this week I went to a strategic liaison meeting with the Faculty of Science, and had another meeting with a head of department. I've almost got to the end of my road trip this summer visiting every HoD, and it's been an extremely interesting and valuable exercise and one I will try and repeat.
On Thursday evening I went to a dinner with members of the Board of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable development . This is a collaboration between the University and the Grantham Foundation to conduct research into sustainibilty, you can read more about it through the link above. Also at the dinner where some of the researchers, and we had a number of presentations and demonstrations of things they were researching into. My favourite of course was the drone, which is used for surveying crops. Unfortunately due to health and safety reasons, it could only hover, and not fly over the audience.
A very entertaining evening, and a great demonstration of the research we are doing into sustainibilty.
Off for a week now, back soon.