The UCISA Corporate Information Systems Group Annual Conference 2011 – & back in the delightful Midland Hotel in sunny (really!) Manchester.

Session 1: Student Centred Services/Andrew West, AMOSSHE

Fairly predictable run through of student expectations – but maybe intentional as trying to debunk the idea that we are in some ‘brave new world’ ruled by the student as paying customer. The idea of being student-centred is hardly new. Aaron Porter: ‘…market totalitarianism will utterly & irreversibly transform the relationship between institutions & students’. Well, market totalitarianism is hardly new either – maybe just less well-hidden these days. So who did you think was running the show?

Terminology: 18% of students see themselves as customers. Reference Glasgow University – concern of staff & students that terminology used in new student system – ie shopping basket, Amazon-type stuff – represents a gross commercialisation of HE. “...we regard the use of consumerist language in the programme as entirely unsuitable to an educational institution such as Glasgow University”. (Information Age September 2011). But then we are also told that our services should be more personalised, intuitive & customer-focused – like, say, Amazon!

Online value & impact toolkit.

Key message: know your students! (or know your customers?)

Session 2: Brave New World Reinvented/Paul Taylor, University of Warwick

Students should become ‘…choosier and more demanding consumers of the HE experience…‘ (Mandelson, 2009). Not sure I’ve ever consumed an experience – what do they taste like?

Student as producer: learners, teachers & researchers all seen as scholars in the common pursuit of knowledge. Scholars – now there’s a word.

Reinvention: collaboration between students, administrative & academic staff, partnership with Monash.

…we have fragmented the world into bits & pieces called disciplines & sub-disciplines…students graduate without any broad integrated sense of the unity of things…failure occurs when minds are taught to think in boxes…” (David Orr, 2004)

Session 3: Change, Information, Systems – Shaping the Future/David Sowerby et al, Solstone Plus

Hmmm…hope this isn’t going to be too much marketing pitch, certainly starting out that way. Didn’t think we had supplier presentations as such at UCISA?

Actually, it’s not, so that’s OK…

HE more important than ever before? Surely it always was? Business systems critical during a period of business change – like what we are always in.

It is more important now than ever that we are able to effectively predict the future‘ – that’s me pointlessly quoting myself, by the way, or quoting myself being pointless.

We are in a period of major change: now more than ever before we don’t know what’s going to happen next‘ – me again. The future is unpredictable, goddammit – that’s always been the problem with that pesky future.

This is just me passsing the time…

& whoops…now turning back into marketing again…& watching paint dry, while my grandmother sucks eggs.


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