UCISA Support Services Group Meeting

We met today at Liverpool John Moores University and had another productive meeting. Attendance was good and I’m pleased that we now have a vice chair in Mandy Phillips, from Liverpool John Moores University, our host for today, as James (chair) is a busy man and can’t always get to meetings. SSG had mistakenly believed that UCISA had a policy that deputies are not allowed to attend UCISA Executive meetings if their chairs cannot attend.  This has turned out not to be the case, which is great  as chairs are normally busy people with busy jobs and busy lives, often with children to look after particularly in school holidays.  Mandy will be able to go to Exec meetings if James is unavailable.

We had a good look at the SSG engagement plan and did some tweaking of it as well as assigning tasks to individual committee members or groups of committee members. The principal aims of the engagement plan are to create physical and virtual communities of networking and collaboration, to organise events to encourage networking across member institutions and companies, to showcase and integrate the use of technologies including social media for better communications and networking and to stimulate the whole UCISA community to think about and respond to shared issues in a participative way. We considered lots of practical ways in which we would do that, and I was charged with having a look at the SSG web pages on the UCISA site with a small group to see how they could be improved and I will also take on responsibility for a new SSG blog on the UCISA site as well as forming a rota of SSG members to contribute to it so we have weekly posts about items of interest. That’s the hope, anyway!

After this we had a good look through the upcoming Support Services Conference which is taking place this year in Edinburgh under the capable chairmanship of my friend and colleague Steve Gough, Assistant Director (Customer Services) at the University of Reading. The conference is shaping up to be another excellent UCISA event with some great speakers lined up and plenty of opportunities for delegates to network with like-minded colleagues from other UK Universities and to contribute to the conference themselves. If you’ve not been before I’ll really encourage you to give it a try. It’s great value at £395 for two night’s accommodation, one full and two half days of networking and learning that could really change the way you work, increase your value to your University and do wonders for your own personal development. There is lots more about the conference, including booking information, on the UCISA website.

Learning and Resource CentreAfter a lovely cold buffet lunch (thanks Liverpool JMU!) we had a tour of some facilities at this University. I was impressed by the Aldham Roberts Learning and Resource Centre – particularly the displays of how many student PCs are available at any given time, the self-service laptop loan scheme and the hours of availability of that (9am-10.45pm Mon-Fri and 10am-7.45pm at the weekend).

In the afternoon we talked more about the upcoming conference making sure roles were filled and that we knew how organisation would happen. It promises to be an exciting event although I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to attend as it is just before our Oxford ICT Forum Conference and I’ve already been to the UCISA management conference this year. It seems only fair to step aside so one or more others from our Customer Services Group can attend the conference.
We had a brief update from the Executive committee and then set the date of our next meeting as 5th September 2013 when we will meet in Leeds.

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