EUNIS Congress 2015 Dundee

10 June and I’m fortunate to be at the EUNIS Congress in sunny Dundee.


EUNIS brings together those who are responsible for management, buying, development and policy for information technology in higher education across Europe. So quite a big deal.


It’s great opportunity to seek out cross-European opportunities for collaboration. As such Jisc is running sessions about our approach to co-designing (with the UK education sector) new technology underpinned shared services. Our speakers are Phil Richards (Chief Innovation Officer), Lisa Gray (talking about our assessment and feedback initiative), Niall Sclater (Jisc learning Analytics service) and myself and Janette Hillicks on Business Intelligence.

Back in March 2014 I wrote up my attendance at the EUNIS Business Intelligence Taskforce two day event. We’ve stayed in touch looking for opportunities to collaborate on the Jisc and HESA Business Intelligence initiative here in the UK. Specifically we’re converging on a cross-Europe BI Maturity measurement exercise and Jisc will announce our plans for the UK part of that very soon. Janette Hillicks and I are speaking more about our BI initiative on the afternoon of day 1.

EUNIS colleagues – if you’d like to discuss any of the above initiatives do seek the Jisc attendees out or attend our sessions.

Opening Keynote – “Confounded by Complexity”
Dr Peter Cochrane OBE – Chief Executive , COCHRANE Associates

Having written the above, I wasn’t able to live blog the first session by @petercochrane consultant engineer, technologist, futurist, entrepreneur & advisor to industry and governments with over 40 years experience in industry and academia. I did keep an ear on and I’d add humorist to that list and say it was truly inspirational and thought provoking.

A few quotes from Twitter;

Thierry Koscielniak ‏@tkoscielniak 6m6 minutes ago
#EUNIS2015 slides from @PeterCochrane

Peter Tinson ‏@pat3460 31m31 minutes ago
Process driven education doesn’t delivery the skills that we need – we need problem solving skills #eunis2015

Janette Hillicks ‏@HanetteHeelox 44m44 minutes ago
“We kill companies by optimising them” – Peter Cochrane at #EUNIS2015

Peter Tinson ‏@pat3460 27m27 minutes ago
Knowledge decays, becomes redundant. Half of what a newly qualified doctor has learnt will be out of date at qualification #eunis2015

Michele Mennielli ‏@micmenn 14m14 minutes ago
Prof Cochrane: “Average tells us absolutely nothing, but it still is what runs our society” #EUNIS2015

Michele Mennielli ‏@micmenn 13m13 minutes ago
Cochrane: “if you want to make things right, hire a machine not a human being”. Was everything wrong till few decades ago??? #EUNIS2015

Raúl Biescas ‏@raulbiescas 2m2 minutes ago
Excellent Conference by @PeterCochrane in #EUNIS2015 @SIGMA_AIE

Michael Clarke ‏@redmedicine 2m2 minutes ago
Prof Cochrane’s favourite game is smuggling likely-to-be confiscated items through customs. A man has to have a hobby. #EUNIS2015

Janette Hillicks ‏@HanetteHeelox 59s60 seconds ago
Networks not PCs better for education @petercochrane Analogy-PCs are like underwear – u don’t let people borrow your underwear. #EUNIS2015

Keynote Two – Jisc Research and Development: Faster Horses or Racing Cars?
Dr Phil Richards – Chief Innovation Officer, Jisc

Phil gave an overview of the new Jisc (a charitable organisation offering solutions to the UK education sector) and highlighted its 4 main areas of work offering shared service to the UK education sector across network and technology, digital resources, advice and engagement, research and development. Each university and college in the UK has its own Jisc account manager. As Chief Innovation officer Phil is head of the Jisc research and development function and outlined the importance of this area in a high technology (fast changing) environment. There’s a new focus on development of digital services and a pipeline to do so. Form technology foresight, proof of concepts, alpha prototypes, beta robust prototypes, service development, service enhancement and, importantly, service decommission.

Jisc currently has a portfolio of 30 R&D projects though this is reducing. See

Phil outlined a return on pipeline investment economic prediction of £120 million savings over the next 3 years

So how does Jisc undertake R&D? Co-design with principles of focused, partnership, agile and experimental. Partners are key professional associations representing staff groups across the UK education sector as well as students themselves and European organisations such as Sigma and Cineca. The outcome of the 2014 consultation came out with 6 areas;
Research at risk (research data management and curation)
Implementing FELTAG (FE Learning and teaching action group)
Digital learning and digital capabilities (entrants not having their expectations met)
Prospect to alumnus (setting up information systems that genuinely put the student at the centre – Student records systems tend to centre on the administrators)
Learning analytics service
Business intelligence service

Along with a shared hosting platform for delivery based on the Google stack.

Jisc runs an annual summer of student innovation competition. Students upload a video of their ideas, the community votes, the successful ideas are taking forward in a sort of Jisc incubator for start ups depending on readiness. The most promising of these is available now and allows researchers to recruit the right participants for their research – is available to use now

Future challenges for Jisc R&D
Since 2008 there has been an annual funding cut in UK Higher education budget of around £100 million. Efficiency savings of that magnitude are under consideration such as

> the duplication of non-academic systems (Jisc is starting with further education)
> provision of very large scale data centres (IBM rationalised to 6 and cite a saving of $1 billion a year
> equipment sharing (Jisc has a service offering this and aims to increase usage)
> educational data brokering / streamlining the data landscape / big data benfits (Jisc has run a successful pilot)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *