Can we have an update on the HP partnership please?

QUESTION:
Can we have an update on the partnership with HP – since its announcement and initial workshops with some colleagues within the institution, everything seems to have gone quiet.

 

ANSWER:
The ICT Strategic Partnership project has been continuing over the last couple of months. This Partnership was formed with Hewlett Packard as part of our investment in our Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure where the need for development is becoming ever more important as our students and customers’ expectations increase. The aim of the partnership is to allow us to meet many of our aspirations regarding technological development and help IS to move to the forefront in several areas working closely with HP.

Within this project, Information Services and HP have held a series of workshops with stakeholders from IS and across the University to look at how our IT should be transformed in the short, medium and long term in areas such as Unified Communication, Mobility, and Portals. These workshops considered developments such as the replacement of the Student Portal and the introduction of Microsoft Lync, which is a desktop collaboration tool that facilitates instant messaging and online meetings and teaching.

Alongside this, a substantial review of our current Data Centres, which hold the infrastructure for our key Corporate Business Systems, has been undertaken. This has defined the fundamental foundation work required to update these Data Centres and to further develop our Server, Storage and Network infrastructure, to build an increasingly resilient and scalable foundation that will support the additional demands of the developments identified within the workshops. This is in line with the University’s requirements for ICT to be increasingly flexible and accessible, driven by University plans regarding internationalisation and distance learning.

The next step in the process is for Estates and IS to assess the options for moving forward. This will consider whether we should continue to invest in the current Data Centres or review alternatives. Alongside this, research will be undertaken into added value initiatives around the student portal.

The Joint degree development between Staffordshire University and HP continues to develop well, towards recruiting to the BSc Internet of Things (in partnership with Hewlett Packard) from September 2014. This innovative computing-based programme involves study links with the Chengdu University of Technology in China and HP China.

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Can Managers appear on MyView?

QUESTION:
Is it possible to have line managers added to the My Section Planner on My View?

 
ANSWER:
Thank you for your question. It would be helpful to have line managers appearing on the My Section Planner on My View. We have raised this matter with the software provider as an enhancement to the system which we are assured will be included in future upgrades.

What was the £25 graduation ticket price spent on?

QUESTION:
I had a wonderful morning with my son and other family members at the FCES graduation event (yesterday). The weather was wonderful and the venue idyllic. However, my expectations were not met when it came to the refreshments –in fact, I was quite disappointed. I would like to ask what I received for my £25 ticket fee for the Graduation event. It certainly wasn’t food. I wonder if Exec can identify what the fee was actually spent on?

 

ANSWER:
Following the ceremonies held at the Trentham Estate in 2012 the University reviewed the location and pricing for its graduation ceremonies with particular concern as to how we manage large numbers of guests in inclement weather. Equally the cost of the graduation ceremonies and the fairness of the previous ticket pricing was raised.
A number of alternative venues were considered for future ceremonies, however, following a feasibility study and consultation with the Students’ Union it was agreed that the previous venue at the Trentham Estate offered by far the better overall experience for our graduating students and their families.
In 2012 all students were charged a flat fee of £35 to attend graduation which covered the entry of the graduate to the ceremonies and a guaranteed 2 additional guests. In 2012 30% of students requested 2 or less tickets and indeed 32 students brought no guests at all to the ceremonies. This meant that the remaining 70% of students and their guests were receiving far more for their £35 than the other students. It was, therefore, agreed that given the increasing costs to students for obtaining their degree that a fairer system would allow free entrance to the ceremonies for all graduates and to charge a fee per guest.
A comparison exercise was undertaken with other Universities and a fee of £25 agreed. This fee covers the entrance into the gardens (normally costing £8), access to the ceremony hall, a celebratory brochure and the post ceremony celebration catering for students and their guests.
We listened to feedback to our pricing structure once the ticket prices had been announced and agreed to offer a £10 refund for all tickets that had been purchased for a child after between 6 and 14. All under-fives entered free of charge. The Students’ Union were fully involved in the review from the start of the process.
The feedback received from virtually all who attended the week was of a higher positive and enjoyable experience. A sample of the comments can be found at http://storify.com/StaffsUni/staffordshire-university-awards-2013 .

It was important to us to ensure that our Students were the decision makers in the style, content and range of products that were offered as part of the post ceremony refreshments. We took the opportunity throughout the planning process to run a number of tasting panels of proposed products. The final range was decided upon by Students and were the products that they had given the highest marks to regards to in taste and visual appeal. We were also mindful that there would be a large number of our guests that would have specific dietary requirements and so for the first time we were able to offer the ability to book special dietary requests for not only the students but also their guests. Comments and feedback from the Students show that this was very well received.

Can staff attend graduation?

QUESTION:
In keeping with other off site arrangements will staff have to ask for their line manager’s permission to attend graduation?
There appear to be mixed signals with some staff being told they must attend despite the fact that they have other university commitments, whilst others have been told they can attend but only with permission.

 
ANSWER:
If colleagues are asked by their line manager to attend the ceremony for their own faculty they would be expected to do so having discussed any potential conflict with other University business.

In general terms all staff are encouraged to attend one ceremony but they would be expected to obtain their line managers permission which would not normally be refused unless there were other University priorities