As agreed at the Colleges' ICT Committee on 10th May 2011, edited Sept 2012 to reflect IT Services merger
The University of Oxford has an agreed and devolved IT Support model whereby support
for end users should be provided in the first instance by IT staff employed by
Colleges or (non-central) Departments. Some units may use contractors rather than
employees to provide IT support. Practice inevitably varies around the Collegiate
University so this note is intended to provide guidelines on what is and is not
expected of College IT departments and how they should interact with the
Helpcentre and Helpdesk at IT Services on Banbury Road. Reference to College in this document should also be taken
to include Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
IT Services has a standard ‘boilerplate’ text that goes on all user-facing documents
that reads: ‘
Your primary support for IT issues comes from your department or college.
Your first port of call for questions or advice should always be your local
’ And this should indeed be the guiding principle for College IT Staff.
It should always be borne in mind that there are some ‘local’ College IT
matters where IT Services simply cannot help because it doesn't have the
access or knowledge. Sending users to the Helpcentre in such situations creates a
bad user experience and a bad impression of the College and University to that user
and therefore should be avoided.
The IT Services Helpcentre at Banbury Road should be considered as a backup to College IT Support rather than
an alternative to appropriate and sufficient IT Support resource provision from the
College. College practices that have been seen that might be considered acceptable
include (but are not limited to):
- College IT Support Staff communicating user issues to IT Services after
their own resources and/or technical knowledge have been exhausted. This might
be called second-line support but Colleges should be aware that helpdesk staff
may have no more technical knowledge on a particular issue than College IT Staff
or contractors. As a consequence College IT Staff should be prepared to be
patient as Helpcentre staff seek advice and solutions from central service
providers both within IT Services and beyond. IT Support Staff may alternatively use
the IT Support Staff Services section of IT Services in this situation.
- Referring users to the IT Services Banbury Road Helpcentre at times of unplanned College IT staff
absence (e.g. sickness) but noting as above that IT Services cannot deal
with some College issues such as helping users with usernames/passwords on
College-provided IT systems and helping users to get their own IT equipment
connected to the College network.
- Referring users to the Banbury Road IT Services Helpcentre at times when other short-term work
(perhaps server or network refreshes) mean that the College IT Support is
temporarily at limited availability. Colleges should note that at naturally busy
times, such as the start of Michaelmas Term, the IT Services Helpdesk at Banbury Road is extremely busy
and that referring customers there at that time of year will quite possibly
result in an extremely long wait.
- Referring users to the IT Services Banbury Road Helpdesk for matters that need IT Services action (e.g.
restoring deleted emails from Nexus or help recovering an HFS backup).
- Referring users to the IT Services Banbury Road Helpdesk for chargeable services such as backup,
reinstall and restore; or hardware repair services (including Apple warranty and
College practices that have been seen that might be considered unacceptable include
(but are not limited to):
- Declaring that the College IT operation does not support a certain type of
computer or operating system (e.g. Macs) and referring all that support to the
IT Services Helpcentre. The helpcentre is willing in the short term to support users of
very specific systems if they are rare or the technology is very new. It is,
however, expected that College IT staff will undergo suitable training in due
course so as to gain the ability to support such computers or operating systems.
- Referring a large proportion of IT support directly to IT Services
instead of providing adequate resources to the College IT support operation.
- Adopting a college policy of not supporting student-owned computers and
referring all support for those to IT Services.
- Using the IT Services Banbury Road Helpcentre to cover periods of extended (> 1-2 weeks)
planned College staff absence. Such events could be covered by reciprocal
agreements with other Colleges or by (temporarily) hiring other support, perhaps
including graduate students and/or contractors.
- Referring users to the Helpdesk for tasks that local IT Staff can easily
execute themselves such as issuing rescue or activation codes or amending email
In any cases of doubt, College IT Staff are encouraged to contact IT Support Staff
Services ITS3@it.ox.ac.uk or the
Helpcentre Manager (Helpcentre.firstname.lastname@example.org) for guidance and advice.