UCISA SS15 Conference: Change is the only constant

By Sally Bogg, IT Service Desk Manager, University of Leeds

This year’s Conference is being held at the Oxford Belfry Hotel, Gt Milton (which is near Thame NOT Oxford). The Oxford Belfry is just off the M40, near to the picturesque university city of Oxford and a short drive from a number of quintessential English towns and villages. It is a four-star hotel which benefits from modern facilities, ample free parking, a spa with pool and gym, all within a gorgeous countryside setting. Furthermore, the sizeable conference space enables us to keep the popular cabaret-style layout. 

A strong and recurring theme from last year’s Conference was change. We were all experiencing change. Many institutions were undergoing organisational change through restructures, reorganisations and converging/deconverging of services, whilst others were embarking on ambitious continual service improvement programmes. 

One thing is for definite − change is the only constant! Our aim for SS15 is to bring together differing views and opinions on how we can support our organisations as they go through change whilst still delivering high-quality support services. 

The Support Services Group always ensure they take on board delegates’ feedback and suggestions and these are used to improve the format and style of the sessions and this year we will be introducing some changes. Instead of discussions with a difference we will have a series of interactive workshops with topics ranging from customer journey mapping and digital skills through to failure and resistance. 

The Panel Session will be back and we will be offering delegates the opportunity to ask our team of industry experts for their views and ideas on how we can lead, manage and support change. As always, the programme will include a wide range of business showcases and exhibitors that are relevant to service desks, libraries and communications services.

Having student input into the Conference has always been important as it helps ensure that we are listening to the authentic student voice. As university service providers we need to understand how students use the technology and systems as this is crucial in helping us improve and develop our services and campus spaces. This year we have a presentation from Emma Andersen from the University of Leeds. Emma is a final year law student and she will be talking about how students use technology in innovative ways to help them with their learning. Despite what we might think, it isn’t all Facebook and Twitter! 

We also have what promises to be an interesting and interactive session from Lancaster University’s Innovations Team entitled ‘Ping Pong, Coke and Crisps’.

The formal dinner will be held on the Thursday evening followed by entertainment from John Archer. John is a comedian, magician, singer, musician, writer and all round modest guy. He is a past winner of the Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year and is certainly one of the best comedy magicians in the UK today.

And as always we will be encouraging delegate participate and we expect to see some lively discussions on Twitter. The hashtag is #USSC15.

Please make sure you visit the Conference Programme regularly to see how SS15 is shaping up. We invite all staff involved in the delivery of support services to join us and we look forward to seeing you there!