Mission of the Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS)
  • To provide high-quality and cost-effective IT services that meet the needs of the University and its members;
  • to contribute to the University's wide range of IT training and relevant training resources;
  • to foster and support excellence, innovation, best practice, and value for money in the use of IT in teaching, learning, and research across the University;
  • to promote effective communication throughout the University IT community.

The Background: OUCS restructuring

OUCS recognised that it was important to refocus and set new priorities. During August 2001, OUCS carried out an extensive internal consultative exercise. Five Organisational Breakout Groups (OBGs) were set up to investigate, explore alternatives, and make recommendations in five areas: Career Development and Staff Communication, Objectives Refresh, Users' Needs, Service Priorities, and Decision Making Mechanisms. Each group brought together staff from different parts of OUCS, selected its own Chair and Secretary, and was given the opportunity to refine and develop its initial broad charge. A spirited discussion ensued, taking up much of the autumn of 2001.

The recommendations arising from this exercise were collectively presented and discussed at a general staff meeting in February 2002. Naturally, they ranged in scope, priority, and urgency; however OUCS senior management made a committment to assessing all recommendations equally, and responding as fully as possible. It was recognised that the value of the OBG exercise would be assessed by the extent to which its recommendations were translated into actions. The majority of OBG recommendations have been implemented, and a new Mission Statement generated.

Overview

After re-focusing, refining the mission, and setting new priorities (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/about/restructure.xml), the Oxford University Computing Services (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/) have embarked upon defining their future vision.

The ICT needs of the University are met by staff in the departments and colleges, by ICT providers (through the: Oxford University Library Services, Management Information Systems, Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, Telecommunications, Department for Continuing Education and the Director of Distance and Online Learning) and by OUCS. There must be an increasing emphasis on ensuring that the various components work together coherently to provide the best service for the user, and OUCS is keen to contribute fully to achieve this goal.

In developing its future vision, OUCS must maintain a dual focus. It must continue to improve, develop and focus its ‘user directed’ services, whilst in parallel, it must facilitate ‘technology transfer’ of new services, ensuring effective and timely application of leading-edge technologies in the support of teaching, learning and research. Services must be operated to maximise performance and quality, while being as cost effective as possible. Furthermore, OUCS must provide, in close collaboration with IT support staff across the University, and with other University ICT providers, a full, efficient and effective IT support infrastructure.

OUCS will continue to build key strategic partnerships with centres of IT-related activity in the University, focusing in particular on the implementation of University-wide facilities. The underpinning of e-Science through the Grid, and the concomitant security challenges (digital certificates, authentication, authorisation, registration) are foreseen as a key future challenges for the department.

Greater standardisation will become important, and a key area of expansion and focus will be ‘Open Standards’ and ‘Open Source Software’, as these will provide the ‘glue’ between loosely connected IT services across the University.

OUCS will pilot and develop new technical solutions for data curation, wireless and mobile computing, IPV6 and convergence of data and voice, and new VLE, MLE and portal services, in cooperation with other service providers within the University where appropriate. The Learning Technology Group, as the main e-learning centre, will play an increasingly important rôle in teaching and learning across the University, in developing education best practice, and in ICT training.

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