1. Introduction

OUCS's mission, echoed in the University's Corporate Plan (§VI(d)), is 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'. This statement summarises the department's direction over the last year, which enjoyed growing use of its core services, exciting new developments, and the commissioning of new ICT activities.

The major core services continued to have increasing number of users and increasing use, the number of externally funded development projects has grown compared to the previous year, and helpdesk usage increased by 12% compared to 2003/4.

The number of academic staff who use ICT to facilitate their work is increasing, with a growth of 300% in use of the WebLearn Virtual Learning Environment over the last year; and development of new online teaching and research projects, especially with regard to user requirements gathering for virtual research environments and digital repositories.

OUCS's role in supporting and training users has continued to develop. There has been a new focus on the provision of support and information for users. Training course attendance risen to over 13,000, above the high watermark of the previous year, mainly as a consequence of the new flexible modular structure for courses. There has been substantial activity in the areas of high level security and virus protection, and once again OUCS developed a free CD for distribution to all new undergraduates to help protect their computers and the University ICT infrastructure.

OUCS has been the prime mover in the creation of an 'Enhanced Computing Environment' (http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/team/) for University Central Administration, the Libraries and the Computing Services. The enhanced desktop service, developed for the three units initially, will be made available to the wider University on a cost recovery basis.

Following a recommendation made in a recent review of OUCS, senior staff in the department have been instrumental in initiating a new programme to develop an ICT Strategic Plan for the collegiate University (http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/strategy/).

The following pages of this Annual Report give further information on some of the highlights of the year, and I commend them to you.

Professor Paul W. Jeffreys
Director, OUCS

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