Major IT investment will support our strategic ambitions

The University Council has approved a £76m investment over five years to deliver two interlinked IT programmes – Digital Enablement and Be Safe.

The new investment will ensure our IT services are modern, sustainable and responsive

An aerial photograph of campus taken from above the Parkinson building

Together they will ensure we have IT services capable of supporting the ambitious vision in the University Strategy and Digital Transformation Strategy. 

Our new University Strategy outlines plans to enhance student education, research and corporate systems and processes through increased use of digital technology, digital approaches and data. To do this, we must ensure our IT services – which are the foundations of the University’s operations – are modern, sustainable and responsive.

The Digital Enablement programme will deliver tangible improvements to all staff and students. Our PC estate will be brought up to modern standards and we will ensure computers are running the latest versions of software, such as Microsoft Office. There will be 24/7 support for business-critical systems, such as Minerva, SAP and Banner.

We will also invest in automation and user self-service – including an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot – to provide a better user experience and allow queries and requests to be answered quickly.

Professor Neil Morris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation, said: “This critical investment in our core technology and data infrastructure, people and IT services is essential for the effective delivery of our education, research and business operations.

“We all recognise the challenges and impacts of dealing with problems in this area, and this investment will deliver solutions that respond directly to the feedback we have received from staff and students, and will ensure that we have robust, future-proofed IT services.”

Modernising our technology

We currently have a large amount of aged technology and infrastructure, which is expensive to maintain and makes introducing new systems and services more costly and complex. This investment will allow us to modernise our technology and move core systems, such as SAP, into the cloud, providing a reliable, flexible and more responsive framework.

We will be able to launch new services more quickly and scale them to meet demand. Older, unsupported applications will be moved into a new fully supported platform.

Improving data quality

Data is the lifeblood of a digital organisation, and Digital Enablement will introduce a new Data Service to improve data quality and connect our systems via standard, modern technology platforms, so that staff and students can get access to the right data at the right time and in the right way. This trusted data can then be reliably reused by individuals and other automated systems.

Investing in people

We will be investing in our people supporting all these services. There will be extensive training to develop existing colleagues and we will recruit where there are skills and resource gaps. This includes areas such as cyber security, Office 365 support, server and cloud technology and data/reporting.

Dedicated cyber security

The second programme – Be Safe – is our dedicated cyber security programme.  Like all organisations, the University must continually invest in cyber security to remain protected and minimise risk. We’ve already seen the benefits of work in this area with the recent rollout of Duo two factor authentication, which has significantly reduced the number of compromised accounts.

This programme will expand the current security service even further, establishing an operations centre dedicated to reducing the likelihood and severity of security incidents and cyber attacks.

Find out more | Sign up for our online events

You can find out more about this investment and the IT strategy it supports at one of our online open events. These are scheduled for:

Thursday 20 May, 10.30-11.30am; and

Tuesday 25 May, 3-4pm.

The events will provide a more detailed look at the plan, and you’ll also have the opportunity to put your questions to the panel.