Current challenges

02 March 2020 - Current challenges

Update from ucisa and request to share resources

Thank you to colleagues across the sector who have been in touch with us to share their preparations to mitigate the potential impact. 

These are the key areas ucisa members have told us they are working on to mitigate the impact at their institutions. Please let us know if there are other challenges we need to consider.   These will be anonymised before sharing and your suggestions will also underpin ucisa’s representation on the Universities UK working party.

Teaching and learning/ student experience:

  • exam planning and supporting the use of technology for exams;
  • investigating the delivery of remote pre-sessional courses for international students and English language teaching (instead of using the more traditional in class methods);
  • greater capacity for live steaming of graduation ceremonies (especially for students with families overseas).

Overseas campuses/ support for transnational students/ students who have not been able to return to the UK:

  • supporting teaching and learning activities in China;
  • legal, diplomatic and technical considerations being addressed by institutions and commercial suppliers in relation to restrictions in China (and use of alternative platforms);
  • supporting research activities in China and the region (some institutions are seeing an uplift in video conferencing);
  • supporting teaching and research activities in other countries that have been affected by the virus.

Staffing and other operational considerations:

  • ensuring robust remote working technologies and policies are in place;
  • which additional staff might need access to the VLE?;
  • setting up an emergency call centre;
  • testing emergency text messaging capacity and purchase of additional bundles.

Supplier and service management:

  • we know that the shortage of Intel chips has been exacerbated – what else should we be flagging up with suppliers?
  • implications for mass use of VPN use and therefore mass Janet activity;
  • capacity of Microsoft Teams video conferencing nationally if usage across the UK increases significantly. 

Change in practice/ application of existing technologies:

  • some colleagues have observed that the current situation has increased interest in the functionality of tools such as Office 365 for teaching and learning. Are there other examples?

Please share with us any preparations your institution is taking so that we can share ideas and solutions to the ucisa community by emailing Anna Mathews, Head of Policy Projects, ucisa

You may also find it useful to signpost ucisa’s Approaches to Business Continuity to professional services staff in your institution. This introductory guide contains prompts to help test University departments’ readiness for significant disruptions such as denial of service attack on the academic network, severe weather or the failure to renew a contract with a major monopoly supply, as well as the kind of situation we are seeing now.