By Gareth McAleese, Head of Corporate Applications, Ulster University
The annual UCISA CISG Conference returned to the Fairmont St Andrews this year. It was over 18 months ago that I took over as Vice Chair of CISG and this was to be the first time that I had the pleasure of being Conference Chair, a challenge that hopefully ended in a rewarding and enjoyable experience for all those that attended. David Telford took over CISG Chair at last year’s Conference and has been excellent in leading us over the past 12 months. Unfortunately he is standing down as CISG Chair at this year’s AGM to take up Vice Chair of the UCISA Executive Committee. CISG’s loss will be the Exec’s gain. David opened the Conference by highlighted the activities of the CISG Group and its contribution to the sector. He went on to outline the Programme for the Conference. This set the scene for what would be an exciting three days.
The opening keynote was presented by David Sweeney, Director for Research, Innovation and Skills at HEFCE. David discussed what the new challenges are for HE and the research agenda and provided a thought-provoking session which ended in an interesting Q&A session on the challenges ahead for HE. Following David was Steve Yorkstone from Edinburgh Napier University and Dave Fleming from Plymouth University. Steve’s energetic style and presentation talked about Lean and Continuous Improvement in HE and outlined examples from his own institution. Dave explored how Plymouth University had deployed Business Partners to maintain a better relationship with their business units and how they are improving their engagement with faculties and other business areas. This was a great opening afternoon and set us up well for the next two days.
The first session of day two was opened by Louise McDonald, Chief Executive of Young Scott. Louise took us on a journey on what she outlined were the learning demands and experiences of young people with technology. Importantly for the sector, she provided useful information on working with young people on co-design and co-production to deliver great services. Next up was Ian Dunn who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at Coventry University who presented on the discussions around the Teaching Excellence Framework and the importance of them and the data that drives them and how this can impact on the real experience of students.
Day two continued with our now established Crowdsourcing sessions which had been pre-selected and voted on by the Conference delegates. Facilitated by the excellent staff from Jisc, these sessions provided a lively debate on current and emerging issues. Following lunch there was a session from Richard Clayton from the University of Birmingham on how they have used techniques, such as Kanban, in improving their approach to delivering services. Simon Price from the University of Bristol then talked us through the issues and challenges of sustaining research data management. The final session of the day was from Simon Whittemore from Jisc. Adding in the presentations from our exhibitors and the business showcases from Workday and Unit4 meant that day two ended on a high note.
The final activity for day two was the CISG AGM where the past 12 months were reviewed and a new business plan agreed for the next 12 months. Several new committee members were voted in and we look forward to working with them in the coming months.
The Conference benefits from an excellent dinner at the end of day two and networking long into the night. The after-dinner speaker was Penny Mallory who talked about her time as world-class rally driver.
Despite the great networking long into the evening the night before, the turnout for Friday morning was excellent and, as it turns out, very rewarding for those that attended the morning sessions. The opening session features Andy Youell from HEDIIP and Toby Price from Instrategy. Andy gave us a great insight into the changing information landscape and how HEDIIP is addressing those challenges and the role the sector will have in that process. Toby followed by outlining a project he was involved with on data modelling and management and the successes the project had and where we as a sector could go next.
The final presentation was from Ian Anderson from Coventry University. Ian had just arrived from Austin, Texas the day before and, although still jet-lagged, gave a frank and entertaining presentation on how Coventry have been using techniques from Enterprise Architecture
David Meade, BBC Mentalist closed the Conference and provided a riveting final session. He promised we would be entertained and that there would be audience participation. He lived up to that promise and provided a highly entertaining session on five techniques that would be useful in our own processional and personal lives.. One of the participants noted that David could make an IKEA instruction manual into an exciting presentation and if feedback from the audience was anything to go by this closed the Conference on a high.
All the presentations can be found on the UCISA website and are well worth viewing. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s CISG16 Conference in Brighton!