By Dr Christine Sexton, Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services, University of Sheffield and UCISA16 Conference Chair.
With a programme specifically tailored for CIOs, Directors of IT and members of their senior staff, the UCISA16 Conference provides an opportunity to learn from each other, to network, discuss challenges with suppliers, and listen to leading speakers from inside and outside of the sector.
The Conference will be held in March 2016 in the excellent conference facilities of Manchester Central. As well as high-quality speakers, there will as usual be the very popular Business and University Showcases, the largest supplier exhibition for our sector, and some very entertaining social events. This year we are replacing the normal poster session, by asking universities to submit short videos, highlighting areas of good practice to share with other delegates.
Improving the student experience is high on all of our agendas, and we are delighted to welcome Hilary Baker, Vice President for IT and COO at California State University to talk to us about their technology enabled initiatives that are impacting student success. We will then hear from Dusty Amroliwala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and COO at the University of East London about how they have used tablet computers to drive teaching excellence.
Jisc has recently appointed a new Chief Executive, and Paul Feldman will have been in post six months, so will be in a good position to tell us what he has found, and what his plans are for the organisation, and how they will impact us. Also from the sector, David Sweeney, Director for Research, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE will bring us up to speed with developments in BIS and HEFCE.
As well as high-quality speakers, there will as usual be the very popular Business and University Showcases, the largest supplier exhibition for our sector, and some very entertaining social events
The Digital Agenda is a high priority for all of us, and Paul Boag, a passionate promoter of digital best practice and author of Digital Adaption will be challenging us with some provocative suggestions. Jamie Anderson, academic, author and speaker who has been named as a ‘management guru’ in the Financial Times, and as one of the world’s top 25 thinkers by the journal Business Strategy Review will also be presenting on some strategic leadership challenges.
Finally, we are delighted that our closing keynote speaker will be John McCarthy, journalist, writer and broadcaster, and Britain’s longest-held hostage in Lebanon, being held for more than five years. Today, the acclaimed broadcaster and author wins the respect of audiences who admire his lack of bitterness and marvel at the human lessons to be learned from his triumph over terrible adversity.
Not only a line-up of excellent speakers, but very relevant to the issues and challenges we are all facing. There will be a wealth of opportunities for delegates to meet with their peers and partners and for our exhibitors to present some of the most up-to-date technology and services available to the sector. As universities and colleges increasingly turn to technology to provide agility, transformational efficiencies and competitive edge, we believe we have put together a conference which will help to address those needs.
The social programme is an important aspect of any event, and our informal event on Wednesday night will start with a drinks reception in the Powerhall at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry which is home to one of the largest collections of working steam engines in the world. This will be followed by a buffet dinner in the main museum, and the formal Thursday night dinner will be held in the splendid surroundings of the Midland Hotel.
I very much look forward to seeing you in March.
UCISA16 takes place 16–18 March 2016 at Manchester Central