Leadership Group

On 26 June 2013, Drew Cook and Sam Williams ran a half-day meeting of the University’s Leadership Group, focusing on the University’s Strategic Plan theme of “creating an interactive and responsive real and virtual estate”.

Drew and Sam presented the strategic context, processes, and challenges and opportunities, and outlined the current roadmaps for improving the real and virtual estate.

You can view Drew and Sam’s presentation here.

Leadership Group members discussed the issues in groups, before feeding back their suggestions, concerns, and any areas of particular emphasis, to inform action planning in the Estates and ICT departments.

Below are the comments from the three feedback sessions:

  1. Strategy
  2. Processes
  3. Challenges and Opportunities


Feedback Session 1: Strategy

From the student group:

  • Making governance more transparent and interactive
  • Responding to postgraduate students’ needs
    • Differentiating our management systems to better meet their needs
    • Adapting to their different demographics (age, personal circumstances)
  • Responding to international students’ needs
    • Embracing different social networks (for example QQ and Weibo)
  • Continuing to ask students to tell us what they want and need
  • Mobile access: designing solutions with students
  • Improving payment systems – for example, enabling cashless payments
  • Pursuing greater data integration across the University
  • Increasing the University’s outreach and inreach through IT systems
  • Empowering decision-making at the appropriate level

From the College of Science group:

  • Process improvements e.g. reduced reliance on paper
  • Enabling large-scale online assessment by providing larger shared, timetabled computing labs
  • Enabling lecture capture
  • Eliminating inflexible, hot and humid spaces
  • Ensuring all spaces are appropriately equipped with IT
  • Realtime communications with students (for example, for timetable changes)
  • Appropriate furniture – type, size, quality
  • Balancing space efficiency against the need for flexibility and spontaneity – for example, needing to book spaces at the last minute

College of Social Sciences group:

  • Identifiable space and zones for each group of disciplines / subjects
  • Linking spaces through improved landscaping
  • Considering the visitor perspective
    • Reception point(s) on campus
    • Web access to our research and information

Professional services group 1:

  • Addressing disparities in quality of space across the campus
  • Reliable and compatible IT systems
  • More novel thinking on space
  • More communications (for example, the Learning Landscapes blog)
  • More art on campus
  • Making key strategy documents more available and to wider audiences
  • Community spaces for students
  • Ensuring the campus is safe and secure

College of Arts group:

  • A high-quality designed environment
  • Capital planning: process, dialogue and evidence to drive strategic investment plans (long-term and short-term)

Professional services group 2:

  • Residential accommodation – quantity and quality
  • Promoting awareness of facilities and IT systems, and measuring their use
  • Individualising our responses to students
  • Ensuring value for money in professional services to minimise overheads
  • Space is a corporate resource
  • Creating more inspiring spaces
  • Enabling collaboration and non-silo culture


Feedback Session 2: University Processes

From the student group:

  • Students only become members of the Union after enrolment
  • Need for social learning space
  • Ownership of student space

From the College of Social Science group:

How we present ourselves, the staff lists as an example of this

  • Capacity within the University
  • Flexibility in choice of technology
  • Flexibility in the use of the VLE
  • Provide a personal portal page with single sign on
  • Plan longer range timetabling
  • Use smart systems for attendance monitoring
  • Use of digital signage around the University to communicate changes
  • Create ways to encourage cross University collaboration

From the College of Science group:

  • Access to reporting
  • Understand the demands for software & technology including library resources
  • Flexibility in the use of VLE technology
  • Create an understanding of the systems
  • There is a lack of space for some activities

From the College of Arts group:

  • The difficulty of visualising / representing the University
  • Support for Teaching & Learning, Research & Enterprise, Quality (all covered in the process diagram)

From the professional services group:

  • Creating an academic community
  • Tensions between working to targets (for example, space utilisation targets) and maintaining flexibility
  • Creating support for end to end processes
  • Using virtual systems to enhance the processes
  • Understanding the organisation
  • Exposing our capabilities, knowing who to speak to


Feedback Session 3: Challenges and Opportunities

For this discussion and feedback session, the groups were mixed to include College, professional services and student representatives. Comments and ideas included:

  • Lecture capture
  • Give students a choice re: ways to engage with lectures
  • Intellectual property: what / how much to share?
  • Flipped classrooms: view content online, then interact on campus
  • How “public” should the campus be?
  • Transport (intercampus; sustainable)
  • Places where students can gather with people they know
  • Students feel some spaces are private (for example, the Engine Shed and Platform Bar)
  • Student-centred communal spaces – and students-only areas?
  • More VLE training for staff to enable staff to better support students
  • Make the real and virtual estate “just work” so that it is not noticed; then move towards being notable for how good it is
  • Better management of changing project priorities; managing “the queue”
  • Greater reliability of systems
  • Turn challenges into opportunities while fixing them
  • Foster greater VLE adoption
  • Encourage completion of academic staff profile pages
  • Create more social learning spaces in existing buildings
  • Social media:
    • Most Schools and departments are not making the most of social media yet
    • More time and expertise are needed
    • What do students want to see in their social media feeds?
    • Investment – are College-based IT interns sufficient?
    • Managing negative comments in social media
    • A project is underway re: social media across all Schools (led by Marketing)
    • The University has a written social media protocol
    • There is a need to join up social media efforts across the University
  • Teaching and learning innovation
  • Make routine systems really routine and slick, to free up time for more valuable activities
  • HD videoconferencing facilities for interacting with colleagues, students and partners globally
  • Creation of a ‘multimedia unit’ to support content creation
  • Blended learning
  • Ensuring that standard classroom fitout and equipment supports a variety of approaches


Analysis of feedback

Many of the topics discussed are covered in the University’s Estates Strategy, ICT Strategy and both departments’ operational plans. The Leadership Group also agreed that the Estates masterplan and ICT Strategy are taking the University in the right direction to achieve its strategic objectives.

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