The UCISA17 Leadership Conference closed with environmentalist and extreme swimmer, Lewis Pugh, telling delegates how to achieve the impossible. It certainly gave the 2018 Conference Committee plenty of food for thought as they sought to build on last year’s excellent programme. The Committee, ably led by Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Director of Information Services at the University of York, have met the task head on and brought together a programme that will both inspire and challenge the delegates. The Conference will look to the future and highlight developments and innovation that takes place in other sectors and throughout the world.
Much has been made of the role artificial intelligence will play in many aspects of our lives and we begin the Conference with Conrad Wolfram, leading technologist and businessman, considering the changes that may be needed in education to equip our students for the new artificial intelligence age. We follow this with a global view of technology developments from David Bicknell and Rob Stoneman, respectively Editor and Global Analyst for Government Computing.
Cyber security remains one of the key challenges for the sector and we open the second day of the Conference with a presentation from Chris Sutherland, Chief Information Security Officer of the Universities and Colleges Shared Service, looking at how institutions can collaborate to meet these demands. The continued refinement of the Teaching Excellence Framework has placed an increased emphasis on the role of data in evidencing institutional behaviours and supporting regulation. Steve Egan, Vice President (Implementation) at the University of Bath will be highlighting the importance of data and the role it plays in regulation.
The Conference once again provides the opportunity to hear from colleagues on how their institutions are addressing some of the major issues. The University Showcase sessions this year cover a broad range of topics including use of chat bots, strategy development and collaborative curriculum development. This year, for the first time, we are giving some of the delegates a chance to consign their pet IT peeves to history in the Room 101 panel session. Will this spell the end for the dreaded have you tried turning it off and on again?
The exhibition, which will comprise around 90 suppliers, provides the opportunity to hear of new developments and discuss the challenges being faced by IT departments within our institutions
On the final day, we start with a keynote from David Furlonger, VP and Gartner Fellow on Future Trends followed by a perspective from across the pond with Sharif Nijim, Senior Director for IT Service Delivery at the University of Notre Dame, discussing how the University’s IT strategy was influenced by the move from on premise to cloud delivery. We tackle the issue of diversity in the workforce with not one but two winners of Women in IT Awards in the guise of Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Director of Information Services at the University of York, and Claire Priestley, Director of IT at City, University of London. Heidi and Claire will share their expertise and highlight the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Finally, we close the Conference by returning to the theme of artificial intelligence and education. Priya Lakhani, Founder and CEO of CENTURY-Tech, will discuss the future of education, artificial intelligence and our responsibility to innovate. Having heard Priya speak at other events, I am looking forward to a presentation that will challenge our perceptions of education and the role that technology plays in developing our students and preparing them for their careers in a changing environment.
One of the key benefits of the UCISA Leadership Conference is the opportunity to hear from our suppliers and partners. We will be repeating the Partner Case Studies this year after their successful introduction in 2017, hearing customers present on the value their partnership with suppliers has delivered to their institutions. The exhibition, which will comprise around 90 suppliers, provides the opportunity to hear of new developments and discuss the challenges being faced by IT departments within our institutions. We are grateful to our exhibitors, Primary sponsors Amazon Web Services, our Innovation Partner, Microsoft and all our other sponsors for their support of the Conference.
We look forward to welcoming delegates, speakers and exhibitors to the Bournemouth International Centre from 7 – 9 March for what promises to be an inspiring and thought provoking Conference.