Feed aggregator

A slow climb for the National Minimum Wage

Nus Org - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 11:48

The Low Pay Commission (LPC), an independent body that advises the government on the country's national minimum wage, has recommended that there be a 3 per cent rise, reports NUS Journalist James McCrory. That would mean that the majority of workers in Britain would, for all their hard work and contribution to the economy, receive a whopping pay rise of, wait for it, 20 pence.

Categories: NUS news

Miliband's pledges to cut fees by a third - will it work?

Nus Org - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 10:16

With the wound of the tuition fees still raw for many students, news of Ed Miliband's pledge to cut tuition fees by a third may not be fully believed, reports NUS Journalist Emma Jacobs.

Categories: NUS news

Who's speaking at the Student Sustainability Summit?

Nus Org - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:43

We’re excited to announce that Crystal Lameman and Sara Parkin will be the keynote speakers at the Student Sustainability Summit, in partnership with EAUC and People & Planet.

Categories: NUS news

NUS responds to Labour's Higher Education Funding Announcement

Nus Org - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 13:23

NUS responds to Labour's Higher Education Funding Announcement

Categories: NUS news

Taking drugs for the high (grades)

Nus Org - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:40

While students once snorted lines to get high in club toilets, the new trend is to sharpen up before a cram session or exam. Having sat 3 hour exams with only coffee and adrenaline to keep me focused, I can understand where these students are coming from.

Categories: NUS news

The Digital Revolution

Nus Org - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:37

Digital innovation has revolutionised the way in which the world runs. Digital industries are booming and pretty much every other sector is being affected by the changes too. Students now find themselves graduating into this world and universities should ensure that their graduates are equipped and well versed in the digital skills required in the job market today.

Categories: NUS news

Community work for benefits?

Nus Org - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:32

NUS Journalist James McCrory offers his views on David Cameron's announcement that a Conservative government will see young people having to do 30 hours community work each week in order to receive benefits.

Categories: NUS news

Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money

JISC news - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:10
26 February 2015

Today, Universities UK published its report on ‘Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money’, which looks at the efficiencies and cost savings that have been achieved by UK higher education in the last few years, and sets out the agenda going forward.

Jisc’s Phil Richards, chief innovation officer and Hugh Look, head of strategic support unit, attended the official launch which was hosted by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, chair of UUK’s Efficiency Task Group and principal and vice-chancellor of the university of Aberdeen.

In this podcast, Phil and Hugh talk about the work Jisc is doing to promote shared service, improve quality and lower costs for the whole sector.

Categories: Universities

Who's connected on community and local services?

Nus Org - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 10:00

Students are members of their local communities and have just as much of a stake in them as anyone else. We too face many common challenges – whether it’s access to housing, transport or the NHS. Check out what people are saying about getting students connected to their community.

Categories: NUS news

UUK report identifies the value of shared services to UK higher education

JISC news - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 09:37
26 February 2015

Jisc today welcomes the publication of the Universities UK (UUK) report ‘Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money’, which highlights how the UK higher education (HE) sector is balancing cost savings with raising the quality of teaching and learning through technology.

The report looks at how the community is benefiting from shared services to achieve significant efficiencies. It identifies higher education as the UK’s largest cost sharing group, thanks to Jisc, which is creating up to £2 million a year for the charity’s customers. It says:

"The potential for shared services to play a critical role in improving quality and distributing and lowering costs has long been acknowledged by the higher education sector. Sector-owned shared services such as Jisc, UCAS, the Janet network and numerous local and regional collaborations demonstrate this."

Martyn Harrow, Jisc chief executive says:

“We face an immense challenge in the UK’s education system: how to harness the power of digital technology while at the same time juggling squeezed budgets.

“As the education and research sector’s body for excellence in digital technology, Jisc works tirelessly to make sure that each penny of investment in IT is put to good use, and that these benefits can be made available to the whole community. We want every single university to profit from digital technology now and in the future.”

The money generated through the cost sharing group is on top of the other benefits Jisc provides to universities annually – an estimated £259 million in cost savings and cost avoidance, and in excess of £100 million in productivity gains.

As well as cost savings the report shows Jisc customers and users to benefit from access to world class infrastructure, such as the Janet network – which provides high capacity, resilient connectivity between UK universities and overseas – and the Jisc shared data centre, the UK’s first dedicated centre for education and research.

Jisc’s work on open data was also praised for helping universities meet the changing landscape. One key area identified was Jisc’s negotiation with publishers on both journal subscription licenses and article processing charge (APC) payments in order to offset the impact. 

In addition, the report reflects on the pressures for universities to show their worth, saying "principles of transparency, openness and accountability dictate that there needs to be a greater emphasis on value for money in the future.” To this end it highlights a joint project by Jisc and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to develop a new business intelligence shared service for universities, which will give a wide range of staff access to quality-assured data sets and analysis tools that will help them to make informed business decisions.

With annual expenditure of £27.9 billion, the UK HE sector generates £73 billion a year for the national economy and is responsible for over £10 billion in export earnings and supporting more than 700,000 jobs.

Martyn added:

“In financial terms, UK higher education is a major player. The continued health of the sector is therefore critical to supporting the nation’s burgeoning economy and ensuring that we remain a global leader.”

To extend the UK’s value agenda in HE, UUK and Jisc set up the Efficiency Exchange in 2011 in response to the Diamond Review. It is designed to help the HE sector discover and share ideas, good practice and resources to create smarter, stronger universities. Jisc regularly contributes advice and guidance on its activities, for example, recent pieces on equipment sharing and technology-enhanced learning.

Categories: Universities

The Open Science Laboratory at the Open University

JISC news - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 15:03
25 February 2015

At last November's Times Higher Education Awards, we sponsored the eagerly contested Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year category, which celebrates the use of innovative and strategic digital technologies. The winner was the Open University's OpenScience Laboratory, and in this podcast, laboratory director Nicholas Braithwaite tells us about what it does and what it means for students' and researchers' learning experience.

Categories: Universities

What will you do for #GoodDeedDay?

Nus Org - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:36

Today, students across the UK are making a positive impact across campuses and communities as part of #GoodDeedDay.

Categories: NUS news

Storing and sharing research data after the ‘Space Race’

JISC news - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:20

The emerging demands of modern, data-intensive, collaborative research has seen swathes of researchers adopting services for data storage and preservation beyond their institutional offer.

At the storage stage, a lot of researchers in the UK have been benefiting from the extra data storage space offered by Dropbox as a part of its ‘Space Race’ promotion. By convincing colleagues and students to sign up it was possible for individuals to gain access to significantly enhanced storage space, all synchronised from local machines in the usual Dropbox way.The final frontierHowever, as with all promotions, the ‘space race’ is coming to an end. From 4 March, these additional allocations will be removed and accounts will revert to their initial state, often with substantially less storage. Data above the account allocation will still be stored and accessible to download, but it won’t be synchronised with local files.For those expecting changes in regularly updated data to be reflected in the cloud – for example by sharing live datasets with collaborators via Dropbox – this could be an unwelcome surprise.What comes nextIt is possible – and Dropbox is encouraging users – to sign up for additional space with a paid monthly subscription.But there are other considerations at force. In the UK the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and other funding councils have policies that the research data they fund must be managed and stored in the European Economic Area (EEA), and that “effective data curation is provided throughout the full data lifecycle”.  UK Data Protection regulations also mean that some personal and other human data will also be stored within the same area.[[{"fid":"2495","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":"702","width":"700","alt":"research data life cycle","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]A Dropbox-type service is clearly beneficial to researchers in the managing active data stage, as it is accessible from the researcher’s personal computer, can be changed easily and opened up for collaboration. Research managers would therefore be advised to consider how they can implement a similar solution at an institutional level, and choose one that is fit for purpose –particularly as the growing number of individual paid accounts within an organisation could result in that institution approaching its procurement threshold.Pick your serviceThere are a range of cloud storage solutions available for researchers that comply with funding council and data protection regulations. These cover managing, sharing and collaborating on research data at different stages in the research data lifecycle.For example with the ‘File Sync and Share’ service Jisc offers, we have worked with commercial providers to deliver a catalogue of file syncing and sharing products that are capable of meeting the requirements of institutions and their researchers, depending on their needs. We are even working with Dropbox in this area.For those who need additional file sharing capabilities at low cost, Jisc has negotiated an agreement with Microsoft for the Office365 suite. This offers EEA-based file syncing and sharing capabilities through the OneDrive application and has the added bonus that it connects through the Janet network, providing enhanced security by avoiding the public internet. Alternatively if the active research data is very large, or if it needs to be next to cloud computing capabilities, a solution such as the one we have with amazon web services might be more apt, providing EEA-based storage and being peered to the Janet network for faster data transfer.Publishing outputsOnce a research project has concluded what happens with the final data outputs?In some cases file storage services are also being used in the ‘manage, store and preserve’ and ‘share and publish’ stages of the research lifecycle, as it is seen as an easy way to backup research data in the cloud. They may also be used to informally publish and share finished datasets using peer to peer communication methods such as emailing links to datasets hosted on the service.This can be seen as bad practice, as this data is not openly available to all, carries little or no metadata to enable discovery or re-use and is outside the scholarly communications infrastructure. The researcher may also be missing out on gaining credit for some of their most valuable digital research outputs.A home for dataThe first home for this type of data should be a suitable disciplinary repository, (an extensive listing can be found on re3data) or the institution’s own data repository.If these options are either not available or suitable, or researchers would like to informally publish their data, then they would be advised to use the free specialist cloud publication services, Figshare and Zenodo. Both offer researchers the space to publish final, citeable, datasets and other digital research objects as best practice dictates.Data published on these services are also given a DataCite Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which is permanently resolvable and integrates with scholarly communications systems by exposing the dataset metadata. This enables the final stages of the research data lifecycle, by providing routes for data discovery, re-use and citation.The futureManaging the research data lifecycle is clearly a challenge. At Jisc, we are working with people who are affected by the changing landscape, to make sure that we are best supporting their needs. We would love to hear your examples or ideas for how to better manage this data - please get in touch with me.
Categories: Universities

UK Learning Analytics Network – notes from kick-off meeting

JISC news - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 17:06

Jisc’s Learning Analytics Network got off to a great start last week with a workshop hosted by the University of East London.  The event was fully subscribed, with around 50 people attending from 31 different institutions, showing the high level of interest in the area in the UK.

Staff and students very positive about dashboards at Nottingham Trent
Mike Day, Director of Information Systems at Nottingham Trent University, gave the first presentation. NTU is particulary advanced in its use of learning analytics.  Mike discussed how his university already has good retention levels but wanted to use data to better inform interventions, improving attainment and a sense of belonging for students.  A dashboard was built using HP Autonomy and is now in use across the institution, combining biographical information with data sources such as door swipes, library loans and VLE use.  This enables comparison of engagement across a cohort and raises alerts if students appear to be disengaged.


Mike Day discusses Nottingham Trent’s pioneering work in learning analytics

Students are “strongly positive” about the dashboard, with 93% of them wanting to be warned if they’re at risk of failure.  Staff are also very positive.  The dashboard confirms that engagement is the strongest predictor of progression, and shows that groups with historically poorer progression and attainment do have different levels of engagement. For these groups engagement is a stronger predictor than demographics.

Analytics to improve retention at Huddersfield
Next up was Sarah Broxton, Strategic Planning Officer at Huddersfield University, who presented on Huddersfield’s work to improve retention with the use of data.  Despite Huddersfield’s improving NSS scores and league table positions there has been a strategic requirement to improve retention rates and institutional effectiveness and efficiency.  Meanwhile attendance monitoring and a centralised timetable system have been introduced, and there’s a need to inform staff better about the data available to them.

Mapping leaver characteristics such as age and entry qualifications to current cohorts, together with attendance data, reports of students most likely to leave early were produced, and communicated to personal tutors and other staff, encouraging them to get in touch.  As with other large IT projects, Huddersfield found the technical issues relatively easy to solve – it’s changing human practices and processes that creates the challenge.  However through increased transparency and training for colleagues acceptance of learning analytics is increasing.

Trying a “skunk-works” approach
Roger Greenhalgh, Jisc’s Strategic IT and Organisational Leadership Advocate, then talked about a “skunk-works” approach to analytics.  Roger showed how small innovation units created within organisations, but relatively free from procedures and regulation, can develop analytics more quickly than traditional IT departments.

Engagement analytics at the University of East London
Gurdish Sandhu and Simon Gill from the University of East London, discussed their Information Strategy and Student Engagement Analytics, combining attendance monitoring data with VLE usage data and other sources to indicate students at risk of drop out.  The University uses QlikView and is at the forefront of deploying useful dashboards for a range of learning analytics applications.

Jisc’s work in the area
After lunch I presented with Paul Bailey and Michael Webb on Jisc’s activities in the area, discussing the architecture for a basic learning analytics system which is currently being procured, some of the ethical and legal issues for a code of practice for learning analytics, and plans for a student app.

Paul also announced that Jisc will provide funding to the Network for three small learning analytics projects of £5k each to be run from June to September, reporting back at the end of the year.  Network members will decide on which proposals should be supported.

Group work
The final session of the day involved splitting into groups to discuss some of the issues of most concern to institutions, notably:

Interventions: we need to be open and transparent about these – and it should be clear when they will happen.  Accurate interpretation of data is essential.  The student needs proper support in order to take any suggested actions.  Meanwhile, messages to students need to be managed carefully so they don’t have a negative effect.  The intervention should be captured and measured so that institutions can find out what works.

Institutional adoption: in order to develop and roll out analytics at institutions the following need to be considered:

  • Identify the stakeholders
  • Fit any analytics project work into the institution’s business planning cycle – use something like a “quality of learning and teaching forum”
  • Ensure that senior management sponsorship is secured and that learning analytics is prioritised against competing projects
  • Put mechanisms in place to interpret the analytics and define interventions
  • Convince academics and tutors that there’s something in it for them
  • Identify genuinely valid analytics – not just things we’d like to do
  • Identify the risks of learning analytics

A more practical suggestion was for Jisc to develop a checklist for organisations on how to implement learning analytics – including the “elevator pitch” to senior management.

There was a tangible  enthusiasm among those present about the potential of learning analytics to improve the student experience, and we’ll be planning further events soon.  To stay informed about future events you can subscribe to the analytics@jiscmail list.

External content link http://analytics.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2015/02/24/uk-learning-analytics-network-not... Project Effective learning analytics External Blog Author Niall Sclater Publication date Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 17:06
Categories: Universities

‘Just Snapchat me’ - the new way to stay in touch with university tutors

JISC news - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 16:01
26 February 2015

Research has revealed a sharp rise in the number of students using social media to stay in touch with tutors at college and university, with 40% of students now using social as their primary means of communication with lecturers.

Facebook is the most popular form of communication, followed by Twitter and WhatsApp, and a startling 12% of those students using social channels to stay in touch use Snapchat.

Jisc conducted a study into the use of technology in higher and further education to mark the launch of the Jisc Digital Festival, which is helping those delivering education in the UK to be at the forefront of technology practice.

The study also found that more than a quarter (28%) of students use their smartphones to draft essays, while 30% use tablet computers when studying. It also revealed that when it comes to choosing where to study, students are taking technology facilities into account, with 45% of students saying technology played a part in their choice of university or college.

“With increased fees and greater competition for a job after graduation, students are choosing their Universities very carefully now, and rightly so,”

said Martyn Harrow, Jisc chief executive.

"Institutions need to make sure they’re providing the best possible tech facilities, and communicating with students over channels those students are already using.

At Jisc, we’re helping universities to use the best technology in the most cost effective way, so the UK higher education sector can maintain its reputation as being among the best in the world.”

The Jisc Digital Festival takes place on March 9–10 at the ICC in Birmingham. Attendees will be able to see examples of how new technologies such as augmented reality and 3D animation can be used in the lecture hall or classroom.

There will also be debates on internet security for students, universities and colleges and speakers during the event including internet giant Google.

Categories: Universities

Technology-enhanced learning for efficiencies and enhancement

JISC news - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 14:59

Technology helps to make the staff/student relationship more productive with universities embracing it to improve teaching and enhance the learning experience.

First published on the Efficiency Exchange blog.‘Efficiency’ is a term which is still regarded with some suspicion by many people working in learning and teaching within higher education, due to its association with cost-cutting and a perceived trade-off with quality.'Efficiency' is a term which is still regarded with some suspicion by many peopleHowever, looking at the long hours worked by so many staff in HE, I believe it’s crucial for everyone that universities ensure as far as possible that staff and student planning, effort, contact time and administration is used to best effect to enhance the student learning experience.And that’s really at the core of efficiency in learning and teaching practice. If it still sounds a bit dull, it shouldn’t – it can involve some really interesting innovation, but that innovation needs to balance the quality, efficiency and responsiveness of practice, and be potentially repeatable and scalable.Let’s start with something that’s a priority to get right on any course, because it is such a big driver of student and staff effort: assessment and feedback. We’ve seen many examples of innovation and process improvements which aim to maximise the benefit derived from the effort expended on planning, setting, completing, marking and feeding back on assignments.Student satisfactionManchester Metropolitan University reviewed their course, department and university-level policies and processes around assessment, and also analysed their data to identify the factors which have most impact on students’ satisfaction and attainment.They then used this information to make two key changes: looking at assessment timetables to reduce bunching of assignments and overall assessment burden; and publishing personalised deadlines, feedback return dates, and provisional marks to all students via their portal, virtual learning environment and mobile app.Our digital student research has confirmed that most incoming students have high expectations of the way that technology will be used to manage the more administrative aspects of their university life, and in many cases this includes a demand for electronic submission and return of their assignments.most incoming students have high expectations of the way that technology will be usedMost institutions are somewhere along the way to putting it in place across the board. The English department at Queen’s University Belfast calculated that the introduction of e-submission and marking saved 20 days per year in administrative staff time.The benefits of the approach are summarised in our electronic management of assessment guide, and we have a current project to help tackle some of the common problem UK universities have with electronic management of assessment.Feedback has been a hot topic for many years now, with staff feeling that they are spending hours providing fulsome and timely feedback for students and students still identifying this as an area of concern.The University of Dundee tackled this on one of their programmes by moving to a technology-supported approach to team tutoring which keeps a shared record of communications around assignments and feedback and enables the course team to have a meaningful and well-informed discussion with students about their longitudinal progress through the course.This has led to workload savings for staff, and improved final results for students. More on this innovation is available on the project blog.In addition to assessment, the other key area to get right on any course must be how contact and non-contact hours are best used to get students engaged in the topic, learning and thinking for themselves.‘Flipped’ approachesAlthough students tend to have a lasting affection for the lecture, they often say that they would like them to be more interactive. Glasgow Caledonian University has taken a well-planned approach to supporting lecturers to make use of clicker technologies, resulting in some innovative teaching and ‘flipped’ approaches which have been well-received by students.Understanding the challenges students face, building on their ideas to fix things, and exploring how any innovation in learning, teaching and student support plays out across the students involved is key in making it successful, which is why many institutions are seeing significant benefits from the use of students as change agents in their digital projects.The University of Winchester has learnt so much from the use of student fellows that the university has quickly increased the number of student fellows from eight to 60, in a large initiative managed jointly by the university and the student union. We’ve seen some great ideas from students through our Summer of Student Innovation, and have gained really useful insights into the key issues for students in higher and further education.That’s just a quick whizz through some of the key trends in technology-enhanced learning which I’ve seen deliver enhancements and efficiencies in recent years, and there are many more which I already feel bad for not having space to mention. If there are other game-changers which have really made a difference to your institution, I’d love to hear from you.First published on the Efficiency Exchange blog.[[{"fid":"2496","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":"106","width":"289","alt":"Efficiency Exchange","class":"media-element file-default media--left"}}]]
Categories: Universities

Conor McGlacken named Student Volunteer of the Year 2015

Nus Org - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 16:22

We’re thrilled to announce that Conor McGlacken has been named Student Volunteer of the Year 2015 as part of Student Volunteering Week.

Categories: NUS news

LGBT History Month Trailblazers3

Nus Org - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 10:00

This February we’re celebrating LGBT History Month and our focus is education. We believe it’s crucial to get LGBT voices deeply embedded in our schools, colleges, and universities. Whether that’s through LGBT academic leaders, ensuring our curriculum reflects the contributions of LGBT people, or discussing LGBT awareness in our Sex and Relationships Education – we want to hear our stories.

That’s why we’re profiling ten LGBT trailblazers throughout the month, to make sure these academic leaders are remembered and honoured for their unique contribution to society – and for paving the way for others to come after them.

Check out the first seven trailblazers, including Frida Kahlo, Oscar Wilde, bell hooks and Alan Turing.

Categories: NUS news

Signed up for Networkshop43 yet?

JISC news - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 11:27

Today, after what seems like ages, the sun is shining and the birds are singing outside my window. Which must mean it’s nearly spring and time is running out to register for Networkshop43.

If you’ve never been before, Networkshop is an annual, three-day event designed to give technical people working in the education and research community an opportunity to network and explore developments in advanced network services.This year, it takes place at the University of Exeter from Tuesday, 31 March until Thursday, 2 April. Just by registering you have a chance to win an iPad Air; you’ll also have opened up some great opportunities to meet experts in a range of digital technologies and to keep up to date with all the innovative stuff that will be emerging soon.What to expectThere will be some showstopper presentations, including one by Chris Lintott, professor of astrophysics and citizen science lead at the University of Oxford. The well-known presenter of BBC TV’s ‘The Sky at Night’ will be bringing us up to date on technology-enabled citizen science.But my top tip is to make sure you leave time to find out about the things we are doing within Jisc to boost research and reduce costs.make sure you leave time to find out about what we are doing to boost research and reduce costsOne headline project that does both is the Jisc data centre, which launched last autumn. It is the first shared data centre for the UK’s education and research community. A joint venture with specialist data centre provider Infinity, it opened for business in Slough with six research-intensive institutions as founding members. We’ll be looking at how they are already seeing the costs of their research data management (RDM) coming down and also at some of the other reasons why our first data hall is already full, way ahead of expectations.For anyone who has been in favour of shared data centres these reasons will be no surprise - but the education and research community has waited a long time for a shared data centre so it will be interesting to see how the founding institutions are already achieving more efficient aggregation and easier data sharing and also to understand how they are working to foster collaborations across common data platforms.Elsewhere, there will be sessions looking at cyber security. This is always an area where there is keen interest and so we’ll be looking at some of the strategies in development. There will be updates on work we’ve done over the last year or so to help the community protect itself against things like heartbleed and on the current programme to help our customers replace their SHA-1 certificates ahead of the 2017 expiry date. Importantly, we are doing this at no cost to customers so it would be worth looking into this at Networkshop43 if you haven’t already done so.there will be opportunities to find out more about activities that often get overlookedAnd alongside the big, juicy projects there will be opportunities to find out more about activities that often get overlooked but can have a big impact on an institution’s bottom line. No-one hears much about the Jisc contracts team but it exists to negotiate terms for services and to pass savings on to customers. They do this day in and day out, largely unsung, so it is timely to find out more about what they do, and hear how a single team member has just saved well over £1m, a massive saving that is now being passed on to our customers.Find out moreYou can find out more about the event programme here before you register for Networkshop43. Everyone who registers is entered in a free prize draw to win one of three iPad Airs, courtesy of our data centre partner Infinity
Categories: Universities

Jisc at Scotland's Colleges 2015

JISC news - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 11:19
20 February 2015

Earlier this week, Jason Miles-Campbell, head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc Northern Ireland, attended the Scotland’s Colleges conference. Here he talks about how Jisc’s new customer services model is helping to engage customers on a local level and support changes in the sector.

Categories: Universities

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