Sector RSS Feeds

Currently needs feeds for

HEA https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/rss/newsfeeds ‎@HEAcademy
JiSC http://feeds.feedburner.com/JISCBlog @Jisc

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

  • The UK Wiley read and publish agreement – nine months on
    A 2018 review estimated that only 28% of all scholarly publications are open access. But the pandemic has heightened the need for full and immediate open access to research and has thrown into sharp relief the barriers that paywalls present to free and unfettered access to knowledge. The transitional Wiley agreement is the most extensive UK open access agreement to date and is showing an encouraging appetite for open access publishing. We will be publishing further detail and supporting data on the Wiley read and publish agreement in the next week.In the meantime, we wanted to share our thoughts and talk more about the decision to put in place controls on articles being published OA from mid-October and our plans for 2021.The agreement has delivered what it set out to do; rapidly increasing the volume of OA from the UK, reducing expenditure and funding this transition using money previously spent on subscriptions. As of 31 August, 5,164 articles have been published or accepted as open access - an 82% increase on articles published OA in 2019 and a 91% increase over 2018.[#pullquote#]As of 31 August, 5,164 articles have been published or accepted as open access[#endpullquote#]Just 3% of eligible authors opted out of open access, resulting in a 97% uptake so far, which was higher than anticipated and higher than we have seen in other transitional agreements.  We also saw a sharp increase in publishing over lockdown; in April and May an average of 770 articles were published each month, over double the average number of articles (300) published in other months. When looking at publishing in our other read and publish agreements, including Springer, Sage and IOP publishing increased, but not at this level.ChallengeOne of the challenges of the agreement is that it does not automatically cover 100% of UK output. Working with institutions and Wiley, we put safeguards in place to ensure that institutions could control spend but still comply with UK research funder policies.One of these safeguards is to ensure that research funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) and the Wellcome Trust can be published open access. This will begin in mid-October and will use the remaining OA fund. We do not anticipate needing to make further restrictions before the end of the year - there is in excess of £2.3m in the fund alongside institutional credits. Jisc and Wiley will continue to monitor the fund very closely and unspent funds will be carried over to 2021.[#pullquote#]We do not anticipate needing to make further restrictions before the end of the year[#endpullquote#]In January 2021, the OA fund will reset, and the discounted fee will continue to apply to all OA publishing. Although the OA fund will increase by 2% in 2021, we want the fund to go further and cover all research and review articles. The reason for this is threefold, we want to minimise administration for universities, simplify author communications and maximise the value researchers and universities derive from the agreement.Title expansionIn 2021 the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) journals will be added to the Wiley read and publish agreement on a fully open access basis.Whilst this will expand publication choices, remove the requirement to subscribe to IET journals and enable greater publishing, it will affect how much publishing can be delivered from the existing funds. For the IET titles and other journals that migrate into these agreements we would like to explore how we can reinvest existing subscription spend to support OA publishing in fully open access journals.[#pullquote#]we would like to explore how we can reinvest existing subscription spend to support OA publishing in fully open access journals.[#endpullquote#]We are undertaking modelling for 2021 which we will share with our strategic groups, funders and library directors to gain agreement for the publishing parameters for the Wiley agreement ahead of 2021 so we can convert even more of UK research to open access so it can be read, used and reused without barriers.New insightsLessons and achievements from the first nine months of the Wiley agreement will be put into practice in our other agreements and negotiations so the sector can rapidly increase the volume of UK research as open access and increase the routes that authors can share their research.
  • Through the COVID crisis, universities are rediscovering their relevance
    As students head back to campus, universities are working innovatively and tirelessly to deliver high-quality education safely around COVID-19 measures - but the sector’s challenges predate the pandemic. I've worked in and with universities for the best part of 40 years, and I’ve never experienced a more hostile time than the past few years.  Out of favourUniversities, through this period, were being packaged as part of the elite. Opprobrium was being visited on vice-chancellors because of their salaries, and there was a perceived absence of value for students. At £9,000 a year, many questioned whether tuition fees were worth it.[#pullquote#]At £9,000 a year, many questioned whether tuition fees were worth it.[#endpullquote#]It seemed to me that universities were struggling because the things that had made them relevant in the eyes of the public - things like leading change, transformational research, widening opportunity and exceptional academic standards - were being questioned in the pursuit to identify value. At the same time, the reserved caution that characterises the sector was prevalent. Where were the brave voices speaking up to defend universities? Their silence was audible.  A sense of optimismDespite this, there remained a sense of optimism in the sector, a feeling that everything would be alright. Universities have been around for hundreds of years; they’re great survivors. And actually, through the COVID-19 crisis, universities have begun to rediscover their relevance.Everyone’s looking to scientists for a vaccine. Universities are sharing expertise on human and behavioural responses to the virus too. And people in the HE sector are advising the government on how to manage the pandemic and get through these great challenges economically and societally. They're rediscovering their mojo and, without question, they‘re demonstrating their value. [#pullquote#]They're rediscovering their mojo and, without question, they‘re demonstrating their value.[#endpullquote#]‘Not like us’Prejudice is in-built in our system. Historic, redbrick, research-intensive universities have an international reputation for academic excellence – and rhetoric around ‘lower-value’ degrees, around students being ‘failed’, is often a side swipe at younger universities.In my previous job as managing director of HE at Tribal, I invited some Russell Group university administrators to visit a post-92 institution in a challenged part of the UK to see how it was using software in really innovative ways, making sure it met the needs of the faculty and students. The administrators wouldn't go. Because they perceived that institution as “not like us”, those insights were thought to have no credibility. Jisc has a key role there, because by working closely with members, we see the richness of what goes on in all universities with different strategies, plans and objectives   Creative thinkingThe achievements of the higher education sector through the pandemic should be acknowledged and celebrated – but vice-chancellors know there’s more work to do. They tell me they need to develop staff digital skills, and there’s a growing awareness that students aren’t all ‘digitally savvy’ either; their access to technology and their propensity to understand and use it differs hugely.[#pullquote#]vice-chancellors know there’s more work to do.[#endpullquote#]So, universities are hard at work, doing what they can to make on-campus experiences as good as they can be while up-skilling academics and students for a blended or distance learning approach.Jisc is working with member universities and partner organisations on a HE research exercise, learning and teaching reimagined, working collectively and creatively about the futures of the sector. Universities are great survivors – and this work has great potential to help make digital change happen. Find out more about how Jisc supports universities and colleges in their work to enhance digital experiences.
  • ‘Don’t leave colleges to fend for themselves’: a journey towards GDPR compliance
    How the further education sector in the UK is working together to embrace GDPR. Colleges and other FE providers have done well and shown the power of community in the face of significant challenges, but this does not mean that they should be left to fend for themselves. Greater guidance from the government and regulators is required to support the FE sector in building a secure and compliant 21st-century education.Battling finance and resourceOne of the most prevalent issues for further education providers since the enforcement of GDPR is a lack of finance and resource.The data collection I undertook for this research revealed that only 21 of the 220 FE providers who responded to a freedom of information (FoI) request, have a dedicated data protection officer. This is largely due to either a lack of budget to employ a dedicated member of staff for this role – the median FTE salary of a DPO in the FE sector being £36,993 pa – or the provider not being of a size where they feel such a dedicated role is justified.[#pullquote#]The research also revealed a lack of clear guidance specifically for the sector.[#endpullquote#]The research also revealed a lack of clear guidance specifically for the sector. Guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) largely concerns schools, without a dedicated focus for further or higher education, and as such has been criticised by research participants as ‘substandard’.This has led to inconsistency across FE in applying a lawful basis for parental contact to discuss the performance and progress of a student. 55% of providers are using the lawful basis of consent. I recommend all providers give serious consideration to this because it supports a privacy by default approach. Without clear guidance on the preferred practice, further education providers are left to implement policies that are only applicable for their own institutions.Further challenges include safeguarding data. 6% of data breaches in FE since the enforcement of GDPR have met the criteria to be reportable to a supervisory authority. Although this doesn’t seem like a high percentage, any breach of this level is a serious threat. However, the fact that 94% of breaches have not met reporting criteria is a testament to the measures that FE providers that have identified and how they have mitigated breaches.Making good progressDespite significant challenges, FE providers have made some good progress in adapting data protection strategies and processes to comply with GDPR. The research shows providers consistently identify the same tasks on internal action plans, showing a harmonious approach despite a lack of formal guidance. It also reveals that the importance of data protection regulation is recognised across all levels of providers, and that students trust FE providers with their data.It is this recognition that contributes to 98% of providers releasing staff training on data protection and ensuring data protection right requests are returned in good time. 98% of right-of-access requests, and 87% of right-of-erasure requests received in year one of GDPR had been responded to within the statutory timeframe.[#pullquote#]The need to revisit data protection governance to ensure compliance with GDPR has also increased the focus on IT security throughout the sector.[#endpullquote#]The need to revisit data protection governance to ensure compliance with GDPR has also increased the focus on IT security throughout the sector. This is well-timed given that Cyber Essentials is becoming an Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) requirement with more stringent frameworks on the horizon.The power of communityA thriving FE community plays a large role in the maintenance of this best practice. There are JiscMail groups dedicated to data protection conversations, and even communities amongst local providers. It is common to see collaboration between providers in the same geographic area, with evidence of this working particularly well in Scotland. Partnerships also exist in other parts of the UK, where FE providers come together to confer on various issues, and there is a certain ‘safety in numbers’.[#pullquote#]nationally, geographically disparate colleges can coincidentally employ the same processes and policies, independent of one another[#endpullquote#]We also see that nationally, geographically disparate colleges can coincidentally employ the same processes and policies, independent of one another, again showing a consistency in approach, independent of government regulation.This research project is just the beginning of the conversation – GDPR has been described as ‘the most monumental pan‐European regulation in the last decade’, and long-term, formal guidance is required.The full research is available on the Solent Electronic Archive website. For more discussion about data protection in FE, sign up to hear Benjamin speak at Jisc’s security conference, free to attend online from 3-5 November 2020. Book your place now.
  • Bringing method to madness
    Data is everywhere – but where does it come from, where is it being stored, and is it worth keeping? It is crucial to take stock. The UK Government has recently published a sweeping new National Data Strategy, which revealed plans for an unprecedented audit and digitisation of public datasets. The £120m project will include the digitalisation and assessment of government documents and datasets from the NHS, police, fire and rescue and education.How the National Data Strategy affects universities and collegesEducational institutions such as universities and colleges need to preserve large amounts of data.Think about digital research outputs such as research articles, research data and PhD projects as well as special collections, archives and electronic records management. On top of that, institutions have statutory obligations to keep a multitude of records like financial, tax, staff, students and governance data. A first step in managing these data sets is to get a handle on the extent of the data at hand.[#pullquote#]A first step in managing these data sets is to get a handle on the extent of the data at hand.[#endpullquote#]Auditing data sounds cumbersome but has become an essential tool to assess whether an organisation’s data is fit for purpose. The government is keen to get on top of the ever-growing problem of what to scan, store or shred as a great many organisations are generating more data than they dispose of, creating a gargantuan virtual landfill.Preserving your dataDigital preservation is a significant challenge, needing continuing assessment as both technologies and usage change. Clever tools, such as Jisc’s preservation service, automatically reformat files so they are readable with new and as-yet unbuilt software. Once in the preservation system, the files are automatically ‘recognised’ and then processed according to pre-set rules into an appropriate format that is as future proof as possible.This sort of tools help preserve the types of documents that form the building blocks of our history. Birth, death and marriage records used to be kept in paper form, giving insights into what life was like many years ago. These records are relatively easily preserved if they are well kept, and the adoption to an accessible digital format is relatively straightforward.[#pullquote#]This sort of tools help preserve the types of documents that form the building blocks of our history [...] and the adoption to an accessible digital format is relatively straightforward.[#endpullquote#]The threats of obsolescence or loss are amplified where the technical challenges are high and when it’s not clear who’s responsible for preserving the data, for instance when there’s multiple stakeholders involved or platforms change.Think about old fashioned TelexRead more about Telex on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telex messages that often used to be the first source for breaking news. These Telex messages are on the Digital Preservation Coalition’s 'bit list' of digitally endangered species. This list highlights digital materials that are most at risk of extinction, as well as those which are relatively safe thanks to digital preservation.Organising and auditing dataOver the past decades, data collecting has evolved in an organic fashion. Data is now preserved in a myriad of ways, as the amount of information that needs to be stored has increased and preservation systems have changed. And the idea ‘if it doesn’t exist in three places it doesn’t exist’ simply causes a tripling of the problem.People are (and will probably continue to be) one of the biggest problems when it comes to organising and managing data. What is a logically ordered dataset for one may be totally incomprehensible to others.[#pullquote#]What is a logically ordered dataset for one may be totally incomprehensible to others.[#endpullquote#]Questions to ask when auditingA data audit allows institutions and individuals to address the following questions:What?What data do you have, and what do you generate? Where?Where is the data stored?Is it in the most appropriate place?Is it known about by the people who should know about it? Quite often all sorts of hidden, unregulated data comes to light. Who? Who  generated or  is generating the data?Who has and is using the data?And who could or should be using the data? It is not uncommon for information that could be widely used across a whole institution to die in isolated silos. Value?What did the data cost to produce?What does it cost to keep?What would it cost if it were lost? Is it worth keeping in limited storage?Understanding the value of the data generated and stored can help in managing budgets and form a source of income - especially when it is processed, aggregated, and enhanced. Risk?Current data regulations, especially those pertaining to GDPR and personally identifiable information relating to living individuals, mean what used to be adequate and appropriate systems and services for storing data are no longer fit for purpose. The risks associated with data loss or exposure are often misunderstood at best, ignored at worst - and, unfortunately, they’re ever increasing as data and infrastructures become more connected. Resilience?How  vulnerable is the data and how can it be protected? Formats change and become obsolete. Digital data deteriorates. An audit can help establish where your data sits on the data curation maturity scale (my model can be seen below) and, more importantly, it allows you to formulate a roadmap to progress up the scale.Data curation maturity scaleChaotic - No idea what data exists, where it is, its value, or the risks associated with this ignorance [danger zone]Aware - Know what and where most of the data is [danger zone]Organised - All data in appropriate systems deduplicated, preserved, curated and regulatory compliantEmpowered - Know the value of the data, how to realise that value and the risks (negative value) associated with itEnriched - Realising value from dataFinal thoughtsIn the words of 19th-century textile designer, poet and socialist activist William Morris’ words: ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ Perhaps this is a time to reassess the value of our possessions, be they physical or virtual.To find out more, book your free place at Jisc's webinar 'What is digital preservation and should you be worried?' on 5 November 2020.
  • Can universities rebuild students’ trust in data?
    Over the summer, many young people found themselves at the mercy of a system of assessment they didn’t understand. Plenty had their plans for the future thrown into disarray. The long-term impact could be a significant shift in the way students view data. Turning point  Universities are about to meet a cohort of students for whom algorithms and data-driven decision-making is a potent and personal issue.  You could argue this is nothing new. As a society, our interaction with systems, platforms and organisations has been impacted by the use of large datasets, algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) for years – but I’d argue that, until recently, use of our data hasn’t been particularly tangible. Sure, we know that corporations and governments use data to shape their services. We see Spotify suggesting songs based on previously played tracks, and we know Amazon recommends products ‘people like you’ bought - but it’s hard to engage with an issue when the processes are so opaque, the experience so varied, and the implications unclear.   Playing fairUnlike our entertainment choices, the stakes when it comes to exams are high. If a students’ future is at the mercy of a system that appears unjust, that’s traumatic – especially when it comes after six months of uncertainty. [#pullquote#] there must be trust in both the processes involved and the people in a position of power.[#endpullquote#]At the same time, senior managers in education know the smooth running of the sector requires the use of data. Without it, universities would be impossible, chaotic and unfair. But data and people interact in complex ways, so there must be trust in both the processes involved and the people in a position of power. Understanding this, Jisc has produced codes of practice around the use of data analytics in a learning setting, most recently relating to issues of wellbeing and mental health. Working in partnership Transparency is key. Do students know what data is collected on them and how it is used? That’s a good first step - but there are further opportunities to involve learners in the design and implementation of data-informed systems and services. This gives them agency in the process. It also gives students an opportunity to develop their awareness about the ways in which data is used in modern life, preparing them better to play an active role in their learning and beyond.[#pullquote#]Transparency is key.[#endpullquote#]We know from the results of a Jisc survey, published this week, that there’s work to be done here: of more than 20,500 university students surveyed, only 36% agreed that their organisation had told them how their data was collected and used and just 17% said they got the chance to be involved in decisions about digital services. If we’re able to involve the staff that will be implementing such systems and services and the students who are affected by them in the designer process, so much the better. Jisc’s mini-MOOC on AI and ethics might be helpful when considering how to do this.Stories and dataThe recent controversy around exam grading wasn’t all focused on data and algorithms; the energy in the debate came from human experiences. These individual stories could be the narratives that stick, especially when considering outcomes for disadvantaged students, and the impact on individuals.  And, for all the fallout, let’s not be too hasty about a comprehensive rollback.The University of Gloucestershire has been exploring how it can bring analysis of the data generated by student interaction and gathered with their permission together with key systems and activities to watch for early warning signs of learners getting into difficulties. This enables informed discussions as part of the university’s pastoral role.There’s a delicate balance to be achieved, but combining the use of analytics with strong relationships and careful interventions can - when done right - prove a useful tool to support a positive student experience. Given that regular contact with students in physical spaces will be unreliable over the coming months, universities and colleges need a wide range of tools to ensure the wellbeing of students.[#pullquote#]universities and colleges need a wide range of tools to ensure the wellbeing of students.[#endpullquote#]After many students’ experiences this summer, I hope universities will look at ways to work collaboratively to use their data ethically and with transparency while also considering lived experiences. Data and stories are close in nature, and we need to hear both to inform decisions. Find out more about how Jisc supports universities and colleges in their work to enhance digital experiences.
  • How to prepare for public sector bodies accessibility regulations
    The public sector bodies accessibility regulations (PSBAR) come into full effect on 23 September 2020, when all public sector websites must be compliant. Here’s what you need to do to get ready. Accessibility of digital resources and web-based applications has been at the forefront of conversation recently, partly due to the rapid shift to online delivery. Alongside ensuring that all students have access to the online systems and digital resources that they need, there’s also a strong legal driver around improving accessibility.“Digital accessibility in further and higher education is key to the success of our disabled students, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis highlighting the importance of ensuring all students can access educational resources virtually.We know that disabled and non-disabled students alike benefit from inclusive practices, such as offering alternative formats, and with the deadline for meeting the accessibility standard just a few weeks away, it is vital that colleges and universities make this a priority in their preparations for the new academic year.”Lord Shinkwin, co-chair for the all-party parliamentary group for assistive technology (APPGAT)New regulationsThe public sector bodies accessibility regulations (PSBAR) come into full effect on 23 September 2020, and all public sector websites must be compliant. Websites, systems and digital resources need to be audited, an accessibility statement published, and remediation plans created.As time is tight, it might not be possible to remediate all systems and resources. However, a good start can be made by auditing systems, and publishing an accessibility statement to show that the organisation cares about accessibility and is taking appropriate actions to work towards full compliance.[#pullquote#]a good start can be made by auditing systems, and publishing an accessibility statement[#endpullquote#]Auditing systems and preparing a statementA key part of compliance with the regulations is publishing an accessibility statement. The Government Digital Service (GDS) has a helpful template for statements as well as a sample statement, and as this is a legal requirement, guidance should be followed carefully.In order to write a statement, audits must be done of websites, web applications (including virtual learning environments and other third-party systems or applications), and other internally created resources or third-party resources.There are a variety of ways to undertake an audit, including contracting in an auditing service. GDS provides guidance on getting an accessibility audit and how to undertake some internal checks. It has also published guidance on undertaking a detailed audit, as well as doing a basic accessibility check if you cannot do a detailed one.Accessibility will now be monitoredGDS is now monitoring public sector bodies’ compliance with the digital accessibility regulations. In the GDS guidance on how the accessibility regulations will be monitored and enforced it is noted that ‘GDS can ask for information and request access to intranets, extranets or any public sector website’."Monitoring has started on new websites, and all public websites need to be accessible and publish an accessibility statement by 23 September.It's really important that there is a statement so users know if they will encounter any accessibility issues with your site, and that there is contact information for the public to be able to raise any problems they find."Chris Heathcote, product manager for accessibility monitoring at GDSNeed some inspiration?There are some great examples of Jisc members taking a whole-organisation approach to digital accessibility, such as this statement by the University of Kent. Or you might feel inspired by this granular accessibility statement published by the University of Glasgow.[#pullquote#]There are some great examples of Jisc members taking a whole-organisation approach to digital accessibility[#endpullquote#]The digital accessibility working group LexDis accessibility toolkit also provides guidance on how to undertake quick accessibility checks and more detailed auditing for digital accessibility.For further support:Read our accessibility team's blog post (in collaboration with the GDS), which asks: is your accessibility statement up to date?Find more support materials on our dedicated information page around meeting the accessibility requirements
  • The use of AI is spreading rapidly but how can universities keep up?
    Right now, universities are being faced with seismic changes due to the pandemic, but another game changer is on the horizon; the rapid rise of ‘industry 4.0’ technologies. The University of Birmingham is adapting to these new technologies. Here's how... How ‘industry 4.0’ technologies are changing our researchIndustry 4.0 technologies offer new opportunities to push back the frontiers of knowledge and uncover rich new insights across all disciplines. I expect that these technologies will be widely embedded across our university in the next 10 years from humanities to engineering.  At the University of Birmingham, adoption of these technologies is still in the early stages, but the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is certainly spreading. For example, we have groups in linguistics who use AI to process natural language, texts and Twitter messages, and our Health Data Research Hubs are using anonymised large-scale data and advanced analytics – including AI – to develop new insights in disease detection, diagnosis and treatments. But we’re just getting started. I think the key element of expanding the use of these research 4.0 technologies is going to be how we make the transition from interested groups, such as computer scientists and small teams dotted around the university, to making it more widely available.[#pullquote#]the key element of expanding the use of these research 4.0 technologies is going to be how we make the transition from interested groups [...] to making it more widely available[#endpullquote#]This will include creating interdisciplinary links through joint appointments and considering the ethical implications that arise.  We will also need to provide continuing professional development (CPD) for researchers across the campus to understand the capabilities of AI in their own fields of research. We’ll need to pilot AI applications to explore new possibilities and this will require additional computer hardware and the use of robotics to automate some experiments and measurements. I believe that the best way to make a transition in a university environment is for a few people across different research areas to start doing it – these may often be early-career researchers - which will prompt others in their immediate community to turn around and see the potential. People have been writing books about artificial intelligence for countless years, but it's the hardware capability and knowing how to apply it that is really making a difference now, together with remarkable advances in data handling capability.Managing research integrity and ethics risksResearch transparency is one of our key concerns. The increased use of AI prompts us to think about the way that data is used and interpreted and the ethical implications. We are very conscious that a lot of artificial intelligence work is done with a kind of ‘black box’ methodology, where researchers no longer know how the algorithm comes to a particular conclusion. It is a matter of debate as to what extent we should implement these findings in healthcare or other research disciplines.To that effect we’re currently exploring a much more transparent form of artificial intelligence with a newly-recruited group of researchers who are building new AI approaches incorporating statistical models to get a better understanding of how outcomes are generated.As member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Strategic Advisory Network, I was asked what the most important topic for the future of research will be, and I suggested that using AI to design improved and efficient experimental methodologies and analysis is going to be vital in many fields to enhance research scope, quality and reproducibility.Our university needs to invest in these research 4.0 technologies and the capabilities of our researchers to strengthen our international reputation. I don’t think we can take a leading position in research if we don’t invest seriously in these technologies and help our researchers to deploy them across the board.[#pullquote#]I don’t think we can take a leading position in research if we don’t invest seriously in these technologies[#endpullquote#]What technology could mean for the role of the researcherWhen automation will be used more widely and replace things people are doing manually at the moment, we clearly need to think about what are the skills and roles that we will need from our technical staff to expand the capability of our research, taking advantage of the research 4.0 technologies. At Birmingham we have established a Technical Academy, through which we will provide opportunities to technical staff to extend their skills, preparing them for the future research and teaching needs of the University. We will also need to expand our teams of individuals with expertise in software engineering and robotics. Another element to consider is to make sure academics are on board with the transition and the use of AI and automation. For example, many researchers are fearful of AI taking over peer review, the writing of publications and grant proposals. Of course, this can be seen as reducing the burden on researchers, but there is a very strong feeling within the academic community that it is academics that should be doing these things as there are risks of supressing creative thinking and introducing systematic bias in assessment through automated processes.[#pullquote#]many researchers are fearful of AI taking over peer review, the writing of publications and grant proposals[#endpullquote#]That is one aspect where the academic community is a long way off coming to terms with the possibilities offered by Research 4.0.The impact of automating parts of the research cycleThis is an area where industry and the university can learn from one another. But in certain quarters of industry the use of robotics and AI is more advanced than we routinely use here. We’ll probably benefit from learning what industry is doing and we may need to think about increasing the number of secondments that we have into industry, and increasing mobility of researchers throughout their careers across industry-academia boundaries. But when it comes to industry partnerships, we have to be aware that the open data (and open software) agenda is not necessarily compatible with the needs of industry to protect intellectual property especially at the more competitive end of research and innovation.Birmingham's research strategyThe future of research at Birmingham requires us to be clear about and to invest in our research strengths. That way we can facilitate trans-disciplinary collaboration within our university and externally.We’re aiming to create a culture that attracts the best researchers to Birmingham who can flourish here. We need a backbone of world class infrastructure and professional support, and a culture of individual development and training, as well as one of mutual support between academics. And as we develop those areas, we also need to embed the concept of responsible and sustainable research and innovation. This is of great importance in contemporary society and applies to universities like ours as well as to industry. I’m conscious that the Research Councils are also thinking about responsible innovation and its importance, in areas from AI and machine learning to synthetic biology. We need to make sure that these new aspects of research integrity will be part of our strategy and will be part of our training and awareness raising and that we flag them as a consideration for every research project.What keeps me up at nightTechnology developments have been so rapid in the last ten years with the expanded capabilities through data science and AI, that our current pace of change across the sector is not fast enough.[#pullquote#]our current pace of change across the sector is not fast enough[#endpullquote#]Universities are not always the quickest institutions to react to changes in the world, and our national funding system does not always help with agility. In the past, the longevity of commitment to particular strategies by universities has been a strength. However, in the Research 4.0 context this is also a potential weakness. Keeping pace, particularly with developments in industry, and with the international competition is crucial.  I wonder whether, as a sector, we can invest the resources quickly enough and recruit the right people to actually maintain our competitive position, and be agile enough to move with the times. Using leadership to improve research performance in a time of research 4.0 We are currently setting up an interdisciplinary Data Sciences Institute which will be launched this calendar year. The idea is to form a centre that brings people together from different disciplines to share expertise, learn from each other and facilitate collaborative work. Our strategy will be multi-stranded to really take us into a leading place, bringing people together, and taking advantage of our external links with the Turing Institute and its constituent universities, with Industry, and with policy-making organisations locally, nationally and internationally. For more information about the impact AI is having on the UK’s research sector, read Research 4.0, Research in the Age of Automation. This new report is delivered by independent thinktank Demos and supported by Jisc. 
  • The dangers of machines without human oversight
    For artificial intelligence (AI) to work best, it needs to be complemented by human expertise and ethical judgement. We’re currently at a moment of peak expectation with AI, but there’s a real risk that these expectations will be dashed should we subsequently discover that this technology isn’t capable of delivering all that has been promised.This has happened with AI before in the seventies and then again in the eighties, and now we could face a third so-called ‘AI winter’ unless we act to tackle the risks that are now beginning to be recognised.A first bold step toward a more holistic approach to data is the government’s recently-announced National Data Strategy - pledging to hire a new government chief data officer to oversee the Government Digital Service, remove barriers to cross-border data flows, and overhaul legacy IT systems.While I see huge potential in the continuing development of more and more sophisticated AI algorithms and methods, we urgently need to attend to the practical problems of embedding them into the real world.Evolving technology for evolving problemsAI systems are trained on data and over time that data – and hence the AI systems trained on them – may no longer be an accurate reflection of the tasks they were created to perform.For example, AI systems trained to extract information from sources such as social media will inevitably lose their accuracy over time as language use changes. It is also well known that training AI systems on historical data can introduced unwanted biases into the decisions they make.The issue of how to ensure that the performance of AI systems is maintained at an acceptable level becomes especially important when these systems are deployed outside the research environment and applied in our daily lives.What is needed is some kind of regulatory oversight to ensure the accuracy and safety of AI systems used in both the public and private sectors. Processes need to be put in place to routinely test the performance of the AI systems and certify that they are and remain fit for purpose.[#pullquote#]What is needed is some kind of regulatory oversight to ensure the accuracy and safety of AI systems[#endpullquote#]This is not a novel idea, regulatory oversight is already applied in a wide range of contexts where public safety could otherwise be at risk without it.Responsible research and innovationWhen it comes to deploying AI in the real world, we have to take into account effects and potential impacts on individuals and on society as a whole. The concept of ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ is about having the foresight to anticipate harmful effects and design to minimise them.It seems surprising that we haven't already made provision for training future AI developers and researchers about how to apply this to their work, given the potential impact AI may have and how some of those consequences could be very detrimental without proper oversight.The need to review the ‘current post-16 curriculum to ensure all pupils receive a grounding in basic digital, quantitative and ethical skills necessary to ensure the effective and appropriate use of AI’ is one of the recommendations of a report I have authored in collaboration with independent think tank Demos and is supported by Jisc.I worry about the current lack of oversight and control as an individual citizen, but also as a researcher because I don't think we have enough focus on how AI is increasingly being used to influence and shape our experience of the world we live in. There is evidence that the public is also becoming more sceptical about the benefits of AI.[#pullquote#]I don't think we have enough focus on how AI is increasingly being used to influence and shape our experience of the world we live in[#endpullquote#]Confidence is keyWe did a surveyPLOS ONE article - Trust in the smart home: Findings from a nationally representative survey in the UK -https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231615 recently to gauge the level of people’s trust in the security and privacy of the Internet of Things and the ‘smart home’, in particular. We found that a lot of people are beginning to question whether these technologies – of which AI is an increasingly important component – are trustworthy. Unless businesses take these concerns seriously, this distrust could become a real threat to commercial success. More broadly, the private sector needs to recognise its responsibility for delivering AI products and services which people can be confident will not expose them to unwanted risks and undesirable impacts. The history of technological innovation tells us that government intervention may be necessary if this is to happen in a timely and effective away.Rob Procter is co-author of the report Research 4.0, Research in the Age of Automation delivered by independent think tank Demos and supported by Jisc. The report seeks to understand what impact AI is having on the UK’s research sector and what implications it has for its future.
  • Students need digital skills more than ever. We know because they’re telling us
    As learners return to colleges and campuses, there’s no turning back from the online shift they’ve experienced this year. Embedding digital in both face-to-face and remote learning is more crucial than ever. Social distancing is now normal, and future local and even national lockdowns are a real possibility. That means a great deal of the student experience must now take place online – or at least have the capacity to do so with minimal disruption.An equitable experience Now is the time for institutions to look carefully at their offer, scrutinising how they support students to have an equitable learning experience online compared to in person.Asking questions and listening to feedback from students is crucial in identifying where improvements can be made. We can’t assume that all learners, once they leave college or university grounds, have a secure place to study, access to the devices they need, and reliable wifi - or that they know how to use all of the different technologies they’re now being asked to use in a way that will maximise their learning experience. In fact, the findings of Jisc’s digital experience insights surveys 2020, published today, show that 19% of 20,575 HE students and 32% of 19,137 FE learners weren’t able to say they have access to reliable wifi.[#pullquote#]We can’t assume that all learners, once they leave college or university grounds, have a secure place to study, access to the devices they need, and reliable wifi[#endpullquote#]Also, interestingly, students are using smartphones to access digital learning, with 82% in FE and 83% in HE saying they use one for their studies. While a whopping 93% of university students use a laptop, that drops to 68% in FE.Worryingly, 3% of learners in the FE sector say they don’t have access to any digital device at all (smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet). That’s a small percentage, but in real terms, it’s 574 people of the 19,137 surveyed. One learner comments:“Laptops or tablets should be given on long term loan as some people do not have access to a computer at home and then find it hard to meet their deadlines.”It’s time to move away from the assumption that all learners are digitally enabled and digitally capable, and see how they can support learners to join them as they make that change.[#pullquote#]It’s time to move away from the assumption that all learners are digitally enabled and digitally capable[#endpullquote#]The year ahead There’s no question that universities and college have a challenging year ahead – especially those that were at the start of their digital journey when COVID-19 first hit the UK. That’s why Jisc created a toolkit to help universities and colleges support arriving students, and worked with the NUS to build a benchmarking tool to help institutions build on their baseline offer to see what they can and arguably should aim for when delivering a high-quality digital experience. Currently, only a handful of organisations that could honestly say they meet those benchmarks.[#pullquote#]Students are telling us they need digital embedded into their courses.[#endpullquote#]There’s been impressive change in the past six months, but we’ve also seen emergency measures, introduced at speed, as a ‘good enough’ sticking plaster solution. Students are telling us they need digital embedded into their courses. Now is the time to listen and respond, transforming approaches and delivering robust systems that can withstand the uncertainties ahead.Jisc's rethinking teaching, learning and assessment campaign launches today. To learn more about students’ experiences with digital, universities and colleges can register their interest in running Jisc’s digital experience insights surveys 2020-21 and attend a webinar on Tuesday 22 September.
  • Moving towards a COVID-19-secure campus
    Universities and colleges are welcoming students and staff back on to campus with innovative approaches to making sure they do so safely. The University of Bolton, for example, has installed airport-style temperature scanners and is lending bikes to keep students off public transport - just two of a range of measures to encourage people back on site full-time.A number of members have asked for help and advice to make sure any new safety measures are proportionate, cost-effective and will protect health, safety and wellbeing in the months ahead.And so, as safeguarding lead, I’ve been looking at how institutions can ask appropriate questions, assess solutions and make choices that are right for their own particular circumstances. These are complex issues, but here are a few pointers that might help avoid expensive mistakes.Confidence mattersPeople have many different views about the virus and make up their own minds about how ‘at risk’ they are. They all need to feel safe before they’ll venture on to campus. What that means for each institution depends on the make-up of student and staff cohorts.In an institution with a lot of international students and staff, for example – especially ones from areas of the world where they’ve learned to live alongside coronaviruses like SARS and MERS – people will be used to having their temperatures scanned regularly. Installing temperature scanners on campus may well encourage them to return to campus.[#pullquote#]Installing the equipment could increase that institution’s chances of staying open if there are future national or local lockdowns.[#endpullquote#]On the other hand, if students and staff are mostly UK and European nationals, temperature-testing might feel heavy-handed or even worrying. Nonetheless, installing the equipment could increase that institution’s chances of staying open if there are future national or local lockdowns. It may be worth doing, therefore – and wise to keep communication positive and open to explain why testing is being introduced.Carefully plan investmentTemperature-testing equipment has its limitations; it can only indicate that someone is warmer than normal. It can’t detect COVID-19 or say why a person’s reading is high.It’s also very easy for detectors to miss a genuine fever if used in the wrong setting – outside, for example, or from the wrong distance – or if someone has just run to class and has developed a sweat.[#pullquote#]Think about how, where and when temperature scanners will be used, how to protect staff who might have to use them[#endpullquote#]Think about how, where and when temperature scanners will be used, how to protect staff who might have to use them (if it’s not an automated system) and what next steps to take when someone triggers an anomalous reading. Will that person have to go home immediately and self-isolate, take a test, or simply go back through the scanner in half an hour’s time?It’s quite possible that some people will decline automatic scanning and processing, which is their right under the general data protection regulation (GDPR). You could offer a binary choice – consent to scanning or stay at home, but faced with this stark decision some students might decide not to start (or resume) their course.These are all questions to think about and there are few right or wrong answers.Use kit you’ve already gotThere may be ways to limit financial outlay, or to invest in kit that has wider uses. There might, perhaps, be access control equipment such as facial recognition kit in the library. If so, it's possible to save time and money by adding temperature-checking devices to the existing structures.[#pullquote#]Remember that maintenance teams and science departments almost certainly have thermal cameras that could be adapted to serve short-term as temperature scanners on access points[#endpullquote#]And remember that maintenance teams and science departments almost certainly have thermal cameras that could be adapted to serve short-term as temperature scanners on access points. If they don’t, it is possible to buy this kind of camera now for temperature-scanning, knowing the equipment can be redeployed longer term in other settings.Recent research shows that international and domestic students are still keen to come to UK institutions this year, especially if there will be face-to-face teaching.As universities work towards a solution that makes this possible, it’s worth keeping an eye on ongoing QS coronavirus studies of the HE sector. These studies are designed to identify best practice and provide useful insights into how institutions are responding to COVID-19’s challenges and to the changing needs of students and staff.If, after considering all the angles, an institution decides it’s worthwhile to invest in new equipment and processes, the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) framework agreements can help with cost-effective procurement, with terms and conditions tailored to the needs of the consortium’s members.Going forward, if enough members request it, Jisc will look at developing a framework agreement which would give colleges, universities and research centres access to higher level equipment.Email me (nelson.ody@jisc.ac.uk) if you'd like to discuss steps to bring students and staff back to campus safely and confidently; I’m happy to talk through issues and offer my own thoughts to help decision-making.Read further advice for members on dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
  • Three things universities need to do now to make the most of digital learning
    How can institutions provide students with the digital learning experience they want and need? Ian Dunn, provost at Coventry University, and Gideon Shimshon, associate principal digital learning and innovation at Queen Mary’s, say the sector can emerge from the COVID-19 crisis better prepared than ever. Times of crisis bring about times of change. Spring 2020 in the education sector saw just that, with universities doing anything and everything they could to give students the best learning experience possible in unprecedented circumstances. The sector did well, proving that universities can move at great pace when needed.Learning from our biggest challengeFor some, this meant scaling up existing operations, and for others, brand new digital strategies had to be created, along with the staff capabilities and infrastructure to deliver them.The sector’s hard work meant that higher education’s long journey into digital teaching and learning was impressively turbo-boosted, and the journey isn’t over yet. We can do so much more.[#pullquote#]Crises shape history, and this is our chance to reshape education in a way that works for students. [#endpullquote#]As the next academic year approaches, it’s clear that higher education will never be the same again. Crises shape history, and this is our chance to reshape education in a way that works for students.Moving beyond the physical campusOur student populations live digitally, as do many academics, yet the campus has clung to its physical estate and, to some extent, simply tolerated the addition of a virtual learning environment. The global pandemic has demonstrated that both the physical and virtual estates need to be developed with equal commitment.[#pullquote#]Our campuses must become cyber-physical; equal-status elements of our existence as universities.[#endpullquote#]Our campuses must become cyber-physical; equal-status elements of our existence as universities. This will require financial investment.Putting students first (by putting staff first)Students and teachers must be placed centre stage in the digital age, and committing to training and development for all staff is a step in the right direction. Some staff may have to step away from how they were taught in order to be able to adapt to a new future.It’s crucial they do though; students benefit when staff are supported to boost their digital skills, because teaching is a team sport.The three requirements for digital learningEmerge Education and Jisc have acknowledged this chance for change, by releasing digital learning rebooted, a report that we’ve been excited to contribute to.Developed through conversations with both universities and the edtech world, it shares case studies from universities, highlighting how they’ve embraced digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than that though, the report looks ahead to 2030, outlining how universities can harness the power of digital to enhance the learning experience for students for good.Digital learning rebooted suggests that, to make the most of its potential, digital learning in HE must meet three requirements by 2030.It needs to be intentional, delivering a learning experience that is built from the ground up to improve on current practice; seamless, with a reliable, coherent and integrated foundation; and supportive, designed to help every student and educator to make the most of it no matter their location or background.[#pullquote#]the overarching goal of the report is to demonstrate how digital learning can improve the university model, no matter the mode of delivery[#endpullquote#]Far from meaning that all learning must happen online, the overarching goal of the report is to demonstrate how digital learning can improve the university model, no matter the mode of delivery.The road aheadTen years is a long time, and the world in 2030 might seem impossible to imagine given the global events of the past year. What’s key is that, as a sector, we are driven by creating the best possible teaching and learning experience for both students and staff.As we emerge from the rubble, we’re ready to rebuild while appreciating that we’ve already laid the foundations for a new digital landscape. The future of education seems an exciting place, and the metamorphosis of higher education has already begun.Read the digital learning rebooted reportLearn more about learning and teaching reimagined
  • How the SAMR learning model can help build a post-COVID digital strategy
    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about never-before-seen experiences for the education sector. These experiences have triggered a reconsideration of digital technology, and its role in learning and teaching. However, as the recent forced shift to online delivery has demonstrated, innovation isn’t all about using the most advanced technology on offer. Pedagogy and strategy have just as much, if not more, to do with successful online learning than which gadgets are used.How to shape a digital strategyWhen planning a journey, knowing the desired destination is key. This is also true of a strategy.Starting with questions such as ‘why do we need this technology?’ and ‘what do we want technology to help us achieve?’ are useful in shaping a digital strategy. Many educators have been using technology for some time, and there will be established and emerging digital practices. However, it’s essential to know if this practice is really transforming the way the curriculum is delivered. So, how can we find out?Teaching and learning models - SAMRModels of teaching and learning can help identify what digital technology has become established within an organisation, and whether it is starting to bring about organisational change.[#pullquote#]Models of teaching and learning can help identify what digital technology has become established within an organisation[#endpullquote#]One model that has gained attention in recent years is SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition). SAMR was developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura, following research into how the use of digital technology was transforming classroom-based teaching and learning.How SAMR worksWithin SAMR, each category describes a different level of technology integration. For example:Substitution – where a technology is either replacing an existing process, or has replaced an older technology, with little gainAugmentation – where technology replaces an older technology or existing process, with some functional improvementModification – allowing for significant redesign and/or redelivery of learning and teaching through use of technologyRedefinition – where the introduction of new technology has created a new practiceThe latter two categories are more likely to promote digital transformation.This SAMR model can be used to carry out simple benchmarking exercises against available technology. For example, SAMR can work as an audit tool to assess how the use of technology is shaping teaching and learning practice.[#pullquote#]This SAMR model can be used to carry out simple benchmarking exercises against available technology.[#endpullquote#]Different types of technology can be aligned with different categories of the SAMR model to figure out how far it has changed practice. This is particularly useful when considering the use of technology in a post-COVID timetable that is likely to involve increased online delivery. Many institutions will have already been through a process of trial and error with different technologies through lockdown, which will be useful information to feed into the audit.Once it is clear how technology has informed teaching and learning practice, it can be used to inform plans for innovation.A useful question here is ‘how can SAMR be used to extend our practice and improve the student experience?’ Educators could then take the audited technology and consider how it could be used more creatively, or to solve a particular problem. This is how practice transforms along the SAMR model, for instance from substitution to augmentation, and so on.Climbing the ladderIt is important, though, to recognise that SAMR is not a hierarchical model – that is to say, redefinition isn’t always better.[#pullquote#]It is important, though, to recognise that SAMR is not a hierarchical model – that is to say, redefinition isn’t always better.[#endpullquote#]If SAMR is viewed as a ladder, although redefinition is the top rung, the lower rungs of augmentation, substitution and modification are just as important in the overall structure.A good example is where a user has additional sensory or cognitive needs. Technology in this case falls primarily into the substitution category, acting as an alternative to analogue tools and enabling participation, but not necessarily adding extra elements to the experience. For instance, auto transcription and autocorrect tools can support additional understanding, convenience and independence without changing the overall learning structure.Used thoughtfully, models like SAMR can help to realise how familiar technology can be used in a transformative way.For more information about how to use the SAMR model, see our quick guide.
  • The fight against phishing: free new tool stops spoofing
    Cyber security is improving in many areas, but phishing is still a big problem for the further and higher education sectors, partly because it is too easy for criminals to send emails pretending to be from a university or college. While part of the solution lies in security awareness training for users, adopting anti-spoofing solutions is increasingly important, too.Phishing attacks across all sectors have been a particular challenge since COVID-19 hit, but this is nothing new for the education sector. According to Jisc’s 2019 cyber security posture survey (pdf), phishing/social engineering and procedural mistakes are by some distance the top threats to UK colleges and universities.[#pullquote#]The research suggests attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and can no longer be tackled simply through raising awareness.[#endpullquote#]This is backed up by findings from the 2019 Cyber Security Breaches Survey (pdf), run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with businesses and charities. The research suggests attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and can no longer be tackled simply through raising awareness.This is why one of the main areas of focus for the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is committed to making the UK the safest place to live and work online, is to encourage the implementation of strong email anti-spoofing controls.Implementing anti-spoofing controls, such as sender framework policy (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), helps other organisations deal with fake emails purporting to have originated from a .ac.uk domain. Basically, organisations that are part of these global email monitoring systems will reject emails that do not appear to be genuine.Advice on these solutions is included in the NCSC’s guidance to help organisations defend against phishing attacks.[#pullquote#]Though many universities and colleges will have sender framework policy (SPF) configured, this is not enough on its own and the NCSC advises working towards a strong DMARC policy.[#endpullquote#]Though many universities and colleges will have sender framework policy (SPF) configured, this is not enough on its own and the NCSC advises working towards a strong DMARC policy.The NCSC provides advice on strengthening email policies and is now offering a free online tool, Mail Check, to universities and colleges. It has done this already for central and local government, with 80% now actively using DMARC. The higher and further education sectors are a long way behind that, but there has been a fantastic initial response over the last couple of months, so I am hoping to see the numbers rise.[#pullquote#]By implementing the tools and policies we recommend, universities and colleges will be protecting staff, students, partner organisations – not to their mention data and reputations[#endpullquote#]By implementing the tools and policies we recommend, universities and colleges will be protecting staff, students, partner organisations – not to their mention data and reputations - from cyber attacks that use their domains.For more information on the Mail Check service, watch the video, take a look at the NCSC online guidance, or sign up for an account. You can contact the Mail Check team at mailcheck@digital.ncsc.gov.uk.For more about cyber security in the education and research sector, sign up for free to attend the Jisc security conference (3-5 November 2020). This year it will focus on ‘building a cyber aware culture together’ and the programme has been expanded to include sessions for all staff members - from network and security specialists, to teaching and learning practitioners. Find out more about how Jisc can help you with cyber security.
  • 'Implementing a security standard needs a mandate from the top'
    Milton Keynes College’s path towards gaining the ISO 270001 information security certificate was fairly smooth partly because we had a mandate from the top and everyone had to get on board, with no exceptions. Security isn’t just a bolt-on at the college; it’s integrated from the start of any project and working towards ISO 270001 was part of the existing digital strategy.Before we started the certification process, we had already conducted pen testing, a phishing awareness campaign and moved a lot of staff on to two-factor authentication. Cyber Essentials Plus was also in place, driven by the contracts we have to deliver education in 19 prisons - you can’t apply for a government contract without it.We also have contracts with other external organsiations and apprenticeship employers, all of which are very interested in the security we have in place. We discovered that having these security ‘badges’ was very useful in giving us an advantage in the marketplace.[#pullquote#]We discovered that having these security ‘badges’ was very useful in giving us an advantage in the marketplace.[#endpullquote#]Influencing changeWe realised early in the certification process that we'd need to completely change how we do things across the whole college and that those changes needed to be sustainable.One of the things about ISO 270001, which can catch you out early on, is that you need to demonstrate management commitment. What the assessors want is a sponsor – someone in the organisation who takes responsibility. I went to our group chief executive officer, who agreed to chair the information security management review meetings, and the involvement of our group chief operating officer was also critical in being able to drive change.We also made a point of trying to engage the middle managers – and there are 30 or 40 at the college, so this was important. They were each responsible for information security in their areas, so their buy-in was essential.All credit to those middle managers, who really did make things happen. There was quite a bit of healthy competition between them because nobody wanted to be responsible for the department that stopped us getting the assessment.Alongside that, we got the right people on the implementation team who could help influence that change. Of course, it helped having the group CEO on the team! She helped bring on board the middle managers, while the estates department staff, who were often walking around the campus, were our eyes and ears.[#pullquote#]We got the right people on the implementation team who could help influence that change[#endpullquote#]We had some outside help to achieve the certification, too, mainly in the form of consultants, including an internal auditor who also happened to be an ISO assessor. He wasn’t cheap, but that kind of help is worth its weight in gold.Writing the policies and physically making things happen we did ourselves.Pushing out the messageWe put a lot of effort into internal communications to promote information security. The communications manager joined the implementation team and we developed a comms plan and identified nine different communications channels to push out our messages. This was not simply about sharing information with staff, it was also showing the assessors that we were actively spreading the word.We put up digital signs in all staff rooms to display information security messages, the lock- screen image on Windows that usually produces pretty landscapes pictures was changed to show security messages, and we had a series of posters, which were particularly useful for the prisons, where restrictions mean it's not possible to share anything digitally.For a period of about six months, there was also something about security in the college’s online monthly magazine covering subjects like phishing emails, the importance of having clear desks and strong passwords.Training and supportAll staff did a 90-minute online training package, which is renewed annually, we introduced an information security induction for new starters, we put leaflets on everyone’s desk and the intranet carried all this information, too. We were aiming to continually enforce six key messages until good practice became second nature.[#pullquote#]All staff did a 90-minute online training package, which is renewed annually, we introduced an information security induction for new starters, we put leaflets on everyone’s desk and the intranet carried all this information, too.[#endpullquote#]It’s early days, but one of the more obvious positive impacts is down to the clear-desk policy, which has had quite transformational effect on our staff areas – they are decluttered and look really good and feel more comfortable. Our risk profile has also been reduced and this process has also been a huge opportunity for us to get on top of our security assets and work out where our data is, particularly what's held in the cloud.[#pullquote#]There’s definitely a sense of pride in achieving ISO 27001 and we do have a more collective attitude towards information security ownership.[#endpullquote#]Managing the cultural change is key and I think we did that. There’s definitely a sense of pride in achieving ISO27001 and we now have a more collective attitude towards information security ownership. It’s moving it away from being the IT thing and makes it everybody’s thing.We gained the certificate in May a little more than 18 months after we started the process, but ticking that box is not the end of the story because there are always new chapters to add; gaining ISO 270001 requires an ongoing process, so we will have to continually work to maintain and improve information security.[#pullquote#]Gaining ISO 270001 requires an ongoing process, so we will have to continually work to maintain and improve information security.[#endpullquote#]Jonathan Wilson will be speaking about implementing ISO270001 at the Jisc security conference (3-5 November 2020). This year it will focus on ‘building a cyber aware culture together’ and the programme has been expanded to include sessions for all staff members - from network and security specialists, to teaching and learning practitioners. Find out more about cyber security.
  • Why having a strong password isn’t enough to secure your account
    Criminals always find a way to take advantage of disasters. In the case of COVID-19, there has been a surge in phishing emails and online scams by nefarious individuals and organised gangs who want to steal data. Now, more than ever, it’s important to set strong passwords and avoid reusing them across multiple accounts. Password managers make this much easier.A good way to provide an extra level of security above and beyond passwords is to employ multi-factor authentication (MFA). Multi-factor authentication means using something in addition to a username and password to log into an account.[#pullquote#]With MFA switched on, even if criminals somehow manage to get hold of usernames and passwords, they still can’t log in without that ‘second factor’. [#endpullquote#]This might be an authenticator app on a mobile phone, or a security key that plugs into a USB port. With MFA switched on, even if criminals somehow manage to get hold of usernames and passwords, they still can’t log in without that ‘second factor’.MFA offers important benefits.Firstly, if attackers find they can’t access an account because of MFA, they’re far more likely simply to try another one, rather than spend time and effort attempting to bypass or remove MFA protections. Secondly, the process of implementing MFA can only heighten the security awareness of all users, which is of benefit to everyone, privately and professionally.Lockdown exposureThe current separation from colleagues and peers leaves people more vulnerable to cyber scams. It’s not possible to just pop across the classroom or office to say, “Did you really send me that email?” or “Does this link look dodgy to you?”.[#pullquote#]It’s easy to make a mistake when there isn’t anyone else around to ask for immediate advice or reassurance.[#endpullquote#]It’s easy to make a mistake when there isn’t anyone else around to ask for immediate advice or reassurance.And mistakes can be very costly.One of the biggest security threats is account takeover. If hackers gain access to an Office 365 account, they can not only exploit it to send and receive malicious emails, which appear to be from a legitimate sender, they can access data and information stored in OneDrive or SharePoint as well.It’s like being handed the keys to the kingdom. Boom! Financial and reputational damage could loom large.Which accounts are being targeted?There’s a common misconception that hackers are only interested in ‘high-value’ accounts, belonging to, for example, chief executives and finance directors, or, as has been recently reported, researchers working on COVID-19.Such people are indeed targeted with individualised attacks, but most of us are far more likely to be victims of automated attacks carried out on an industrial scale. Methods like password spraying and credential stuffing employ many thousands of account details obtained via data breaches and traded online. Thinking ”no-one’s going to be interested in my account” is a dangerous assumption. Free tools like Have I Been Pwned allow searches across multiple data breaches to see if email addresses have been compromised.Convenience vs securityFor too long convenience has been prioritised over security, such as being able to log in with just a password from anywhere at any time.The fundamental problems with passwords are that most people are not very good at choosing strong ones, and tend to reuse passwords rather than setting a different one for every account.[#pullquote#]Reusing a password, or choosing a weak password, or not spotting a phishing email, all put users at risk. [#endpullquote#]Reusing a password, or choosing a weak password, or not spotting a phishing email, all put users at risk. But once MFA is set up, there's a safety net. That’s not to say it’s infallible - MFA can be busted too - but it takes extra time and effort to do so, and in many cases criminals simply won’t bother.[#pullquote#] It is - unbelievably - true that the most popular password of 2019 was 123456 and ‘password’ appears at number four.[#endpullquote#]If people pick their own passwords rather than using a password manager to set and store strong passwords for them, the result is usually a weak password. It is - unbelievably - true that the most popular password of 2019 was 123456 and ‘password’ appears at number four.Cyber criminals use this complacency to launch automated attacks against hundreds of thousands of accounts using lists of commonly used passwords – a method called password spraying.The success rate might be low - perhaps less than one percent - but if they target 100,000 accounts that's still plenty of compromised accounts.Credential stuffing uses the premise that people often use the same password for multiple accounts. Passwords that have been stolen from one data breach are reused to try to access other platforms. In these instances, having a super-strong password is useless.Things to rememberSo, the lesson is clear – use a separate, strong password for every account and turn on MFA wherever it’s possible to do so, whether for work-based or personal accounts, or apps like Amazon and WhatsApp, which offer MFA as an option.[#pullquote#]When introducing the idea to staff or students, my advice is to start with the why.[#endpullquote#]When introducing the idea to staff or students, my advice is to start with the why.It’s not enough to tell users what to do – it’s important to inspire them to change their behaviours by demonstrating the impact and value of that change. Point out, for example, that the authenticator app will also work for ‘home’ accounts like Amazon. That’s a bonus.More advice is available on our cyber security pages. 
  • New research provides food for thought
    Last week, Pearson and Wonkhe published the findings of a survey into student experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic (pdf), as well as an accompanying article. Here, three Jisc experts reflect and take stock. ‘COVID-19 is a tsunami that has permanently altered the HE landscape’Chris Thomson, subject specialist: digital practice (lead/communication and collaboration), Jisc.It’s the final sentence of Anna Jackson’s article on the Pearson/Wonkhe student expectations survey 2020 that stands out for me. The head of customer insights at Pearson says:‘It is eminently possible to create an inclusive connected community online if the right learning design and lecturer training is put in place.’Students and staff have been dealing with extraordinary turmoil, facing a range of uncertainties about the future - not just to do with education. So, in a largely sobering piece, this strikes an important note of optimism.‘Build back better’The survey explores what today’s students think learning should look like and how they want to be supported. Some of these ideas challenge the assumptions, values and structures that have previously shaped how universities work.[#pullquote#]Imagine we were inventing a university today, from scratch, in the current climate. What might be prioritised? How much of the old model would remain? Which aspects could be re-evaluated?[#endpullquote#]Imagine we were inventing a university today, from scratch, in the current climate. What might be prioritised? How much of the old model would remain? Which aspects could be re-evaluated? Framed like that, I start to wonder what people and institutions might be clinging to in the hope that, at some point all, the current uncertainty will lift. Can we ever go back to how things were? Should we? As Anna Jackson wrote, why not instead ‘build back better’?Flotsam and jetsamIn February, the COVID-19 tsunami rolled in and we took steps to deal with the emergency. That tide will eventually recede – and I think it’s safe to assume that the shape of the land that emerges will be very different to that of 2019. Irretrievably so.My concern is that we spend our time trying to clean up the flotsam and jetsam left behind, dealing with the surface detail without looking at the broader landscape. In a nutshell, that’s what Jisc’s learning and teaching reimagined programme is about.To move forward, the sector must untangle those core values and assumptions. That will take courage and clarity of vision from leadership.‘Here’ and now?Zac Gribble, subject specialist: digital practice (platforms), Jisc.According to Anna Jackson’s article in Wonkhe:“Students want more interactive learning, fewer pre-recorded lectures and more opportunities to ask questions”During my experiences of running VLE reviews and interacting with students, I have heard that learners’ frustration with online education comes from a lack of consistency. That might be inconsistencies across different modules, or from different teaching staff’s practices with digital. An inconsistent approach to online learning can play into these frustrations, which can disconnect students.[#pullquote#]I have heard that learners’ frustration with online education comes from a lack of consistency. [#endpullquote#]Being presentIn the student expectations survey 2020, 71% of HE students say they would struggle with motivation to learn if given limited face-to-face time with tutors. That’s worrying. What does face-to-face learning bring that students crave so much? Possibly it’s about being, physically, with peers, with educators, or on campus. In the education sector, we often talk about wanting students to feel part of a community. With community comes fellowship and pride in belonging. Being ‘present’ is central.‘Increased anxiety’Anna’s article goes on to highlight students’ lack of enthusiasm for recorded sessions, pointing to feedback from students that their wellbeing is suffering from being taught online:“Responses throughout the survey suggest that wellbeing issues are not simply the result of students being at home and the concerns over Covid-19, but that the way that universities have managed interactions and online learning has increased their anxiety, having a negative impact on their wellbeing.”This may be tough for some institutions to hear; many have hours of recorded lectures that could form a bulk of their post-COVID response. But the research supports my view that a connection with learning often comes with interaction, discussion and feedback. That could be delivered in live online sessions, where educators can respond to questions and reactions from students, placing them in the ‘here and now’.Benchmarks of engagementIn my mind, a reliance on legacy recorded content or broadcast-styled learning content puts institutions in danger of falling behind the student expectation. Social media, corporate web campaigns and mobile technology have been setting benchmarks for engaging with users from a distance for a long time. Being told that they must learn solely from ‘one-way’, asynchronous content, with little opportunity for discussion or interaction, won’t sit well with students.[#pullquote#]a reliance on legacy recorded content or broadcast-styled learning content puts institutions in danger of falling behind the student expectation. [#endpullquote#]The good news is, when staff and students feel confident with digital delivery, they can feel connected, engaged and part of a university community. For me, success comes from listening to students, and listening to the staff delivering the learning – even if that means committing to a path some may struggle with.Learning resources in the spotlightLis Parcell, subject specialist (libraries and digital resources), Jisc.One of the most striking impacts of universities under lockdown has been how the value of libraries has come into the spotlight.The Pearson/Wonkhe student expectations research evidences this, showing that students have missed things that are often taken for granted on campus – such as study space, learning resources and access to archives.Adapting and deliveringLibraries fulfil many needs in a university. As well as content provision, they offer communal study spaces, social spaces; and access to technology that may not be available to learners at home.Perhaps because of this, university libraries were often among the last places on campus to close their physical doors during the pandemic. They didn’t close their services, of course: staying open online and often being swift to ramp up, even expand, their digital offer. Many took advantage of extra content made available by publishers on a temporary basis. Jisc has captured video snapshots that show libraries taking stock of the challenges and working together to seek solutions.Great expectationsThe Pearson/WonkHE research highlights a student need for learning resources in support of teaching. Lockdown gave students and academics a chance to discover digital library resources they never knew existed. Now, expectations of library digital content are likely to be higher than ever.[#pullquote#]Now, expectations of library digital content are likely to be higher than ever.[#endpullquote#]Come the autumn term, students will need to read – whether that’s core textbook or archive material. E-books are sometimes assumed to be an easy answer, yet many academic texts are not available digitally or are prohibitively expensive. Urgent conversations are needed, not just between librarians but with academics and university leaders, to ensure that student expectations are met and managed as well as possible. This will be particularly urgent in arts, humanities and social sciences, where students and researchers are more reliant on print than those in STEM subjects.‘Valued, confident and motivated’For subjects that rely wholly or partly on archives, there has been some good news. Jisc recently gave a sneak preview of a new free history of science collection, while Times Higher Education has reported on a number of initiatives to create and support digital archives in many disciplines.The Pearson/WonkHE research underlines the need of all students to feel valued, listened to, confident and motivated. Much remains to be done but one thing is certain: to meet and manage student expectations, collaboration is crucial - and it must include library staff, academics, learning technologists, IT teams and others - all working together for the benefit of students.
  • Remote learners need easy access to e-books and digital resources – here's how it’s done
    While college libraries may reopen at the start of the autumn term, measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 mean that access to physical text books will be restricted for some time yet. It’s expected that many library services will continue to be delivered online and that ‘real’ books will be quarantined for up to three days between borrowers, so it’s probable then, that colleges and learners will increasingly rely on e-books and other digital resources. Current barriers being faced by collegesSadly, there are still barriers to smooth access to digital resourcesTES article - Online learning is here to stay - but barriers remain: https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-online-learning-here-stay-barriers-remain. Colleges that have a managed identity provider system (IdP) in place provide staff and students with a recognised login, which gives automatic access to resources regardless of where they’re logging on or from what device – including mobile phones.But learners at about 50 UK colleges without a managed IdP system only have automatic access to e-books and digital materials when using college equipment or while on the college estate.  [#pullquote#]Learners at about 50 UK colleges without a managed IdP system only have automatic access to e-books and digital materials when using college equipment[#endpullquote#]The problem is obvious, so my hope is that college leaders get together with their IT teams over the summer to smooth out such wrinkles before the start of the autumn term. A new solution: the Jisc virtual libraryIn direct response to this blocker, Jisc has put together an FE-specific offer on the Open Athens service. Once installed, it allows students to use their existing colleges credentials to access all library resources, whether on or off site.  [#pullquote#]The Jisc virtual library [...] includes links, grouped by subject, to Jisc’s entire curriculum-mapped e-books for FE catalogue and vocational learning resources[#endpullquote#]In May we launched a new, free product, which will also be useful in supporting distance learning and, importantly, saves library staff time. The Jisc virtual library, which can be integrated with virtual learning environments (VLEs), includes links, grouped by subject, to Jisc’s entire curriculum-mapped e-books for FE catalogue and vocational learning resources.  With this tool, learners and staff alike will find it easier than ever to find the material they need – and Jisc updates the links centrally on an annual basis, saving a library staff the time and trouble of doing so manually. There’s an area dedicated to GCSE English and mathematics e-books, too. 70 colleges on board so farI’m really proud of this tool and we’ve been delighted with how it’s been received by the sector – 70 colleges have subscribed already. We also know that more colleges are interested in making our free e-books for FE service available to learners because, in March, a number of colleges, which had not previously done so, signed up. Presumably, this was in preparation for lockdown and the subsequent shift to remote learning and teaching.  Increased usage of e-booksOverall, the use of e-books increased by 10% in 2018/19 over the previous academic year, and it’s going to be interesting to notice the trend in usage going forward from September. As is usual at this time of year, Jisc is updating its e-books for FE collection – which is free for all UK colleges – and adding more than 80 new titles to keep the collection current and relevant to benefit colleges and learners alike.[#pullquote#]Jisc is updating its e-books for FE collection – which is free for all UK colleges – and adding more than 80 new titles to keep the collection current and relevant[#endpullquote#]We measure the use of e-books on a monthly basis and we were expecting that, because everyone was learning remotely, usage would have risen during April and May, but it didn’t. We think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, some colleges have struggled to maintain engagement with all their learners, and secondly, there is a significant proportion of learners who are disadvantaged and don’t have reliable access to either devices or adequate broadband connections.Make the most of e-books for FETo help members get the most from the e-books for FE service, we ran a series of webinars over the past few months. These will start again next term (keep an eye on the e-books for FE training pages for more information), but there are video recordings for anyone who missed out first time around.Members can sign up to use the Jisc virtual library via the license subscriptions manager website. For more information about Jisc’s digital resources, email content.feandskills@jisc.ac.uk.
  • Translation vs transformation: facilitating positive change through a crisis
    The impact of COVID-19 has been felt throughout the education sector, not least in universities, which are juggling a swift move to online delivery with dwindling budgets and uncertainty about how lockdown might be eased in the coming weeks and months. As universities start to consider reopening campuses in September, and how online learning will fit into the new landscape, thinking about pedagogy and digital strategy will be important. A good place to start could be making a clear distinction between online delivery and true online learning. This can help enable institutions to use the technology at their disposal to improve the student experience.[#pullquote#]A good place to start could be making a clear distinction between online delivery and true online learning.[#endpullquote#]Online learning isn’t just a matter of translating established techniques onto new platforms without altering delivery – it requires real transformation. Where institutions are already modifying their pedagogies and methods of delivery for online learning, they report good engagement from learnersvan Ameijde, J; Weller, M and Cross, S; Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, vol 6, issue 2, (2018) pp. 41-50.But translation is simple; transformation demands an adjustment in thinking. For example, if a class usually happens in the form of a 60-minute lecture, when shifting to online delivery, the lecture could be split up into different sections with activities throughout the day, or even throughout the week. Digital technology allows us to break free of the 9-5 mentality.[#pullquote#]But translation is simple; transformation demands an adjustment in thinking.[#endpullquote#][[{"fid":"11313","view_mode":"default","fields":{"alt":"Illustration showing the transformation phase of online learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element file-default l-shift-right","data-delta":"1","format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Translation","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing the translation phase of online learning"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"alt":"Illustration showing the transformation phase of online learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element file-default l-shift-right","data-delta":"1","format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Translation","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing the translation phase of online learning"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Illustration showing the translation phase of online learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element l-shift-right file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]][[{"fid":"11314","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Transformation","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing the transformation phase of online learning"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"2":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Transformation","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing the transformation phase of online learning"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Illustration showing the transformation phase of online learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element l-shift-right file-default","data-delta":"2"}}]]The flexibility enabled by this technology demonstrates that much can be done with approaches such as asynchronous learning. This is of particular importance for students who may be finding remote learning a strain.Through the pandemic, many have been forced into spaces that may not always be conducive to study. Some won’t have the bandwidth they need, or may have conflicting responsibilities that mean they can’t sit down for an hour uninterrupted to attend a lecture. This is where the agility of asynchronous learning comes into its own.[[{"fid":"11315","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Synchronous learning","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing synchronous learning"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"3":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Synchronous learning","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing synchronous learning"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Illustration showing synchronous learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element l-shift-right file-default","data-delta":"3"}}]][[{"fid":"11316","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Asynchronous learning","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing asynchronous learning"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"4":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Asynchronous learning","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Illustration showing asynchronous learning"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Illustration showing asynchronous learning","height":576,"width":1024,"class":"media-element l-shift-right file-default","data-delta":"4"}}]]University College of Estate Management (UCEM) is an example of an institution that has successfully transformed its delivery. Over the last four or five years, UCEM has transitioned to be 100% online, and in doing so has focused on developing its pedagogical approaches for an online environment and building programmes to allow for flexibility of learning. Ruth Grindey, director of development at UCEM, says:“A lot of our students come to us as career-jumpers, when they’ve been in industry and want a qualification or as apprentices. Many are studying part-time and have very busy lives. We are very mindful of their circumstances, and we take all this into consideration when designing learning programmes. Digital technology allows us to provide this flexibility.”But as Ruth also says, online delivery tools need to be intuitive, otherwise they can act as a barrier to learning. She says:“Nobody taught you to use Amazon. And that’s how our learning should be. A lot of the work we’ve been doing as part of our transformation has been centred on being intuitive, obvious, and consistent.”The different methods of delivery afforded by technology also allow for varying approaches by different courses, departments, and tutors. For example, a maths lecture is very different to a humanities lecture, which is very different to a chemistry lecture, or a creative arts lecture. This is true whether classes are taught in-person or online.It may be useful here, then, to question what tools might create effective online learning experiences that reflect different students’ needs, considering the kind of space they have access to, the subject they’re studying, the size of the cohort, and so on. For instance, at UCEM, approaches differ depending on which module is being taught, to ensure teaching and delivery is specific to each cohort’s needs.[#pullquote#]Taking advantage of digital tools and evaluating pedagogies mean online learning doesn’t have to be a poor experience.[#endpullquote#]Taking advantage of digital tools and evaluating pedagogies mean online learning doesn’t have to be a poor experience. When experiences and delivery are transformed, rather than translated, digital technology can facilitate positive change, supporting institutions, staff and students as they make the most of unforeseen circumstances.Looking towards a post-coronavirus future for the HE sector, Jisc is partnering with UUK, Advance HE and Emerge Education in a research programme that will produce a roadmap to tech-enabled learning and teaching from 2021/22 and beyond. Find out more on our page about the project.
  • What we can learn from the graduate outcomes data and why it’s important
    A red-letter day for many within and outside the higher education sector, the annual Graduate Outcomes (GO) survey is published today. It shows what graduates from the 2017/18 academic year were doing 15 months after they left university. As the UK’s largest annual social survey, it contains a wealth of interesting data on graduate destinations, how much they earn and their attitudes towards study.Of course, in a post COVID-19 world, the question arises of how relevant all this is.Although the jobs market has been highly disrupted by the pandemic, that disruption will not persist indefinitely. The graduate labour market looks to be less seriously affected than other areas of the economy. While some things will change, students will still graduate from university, they will still go into the labour market, and they will mainly make similar choices to graduates pre-pandemic.[#pullquote#]The graduate labour market looks to be less seriously affected than other areas of the economy.[#endpullquote#]In fact, the next few surveys will be invaluable in tracking how the economy changes in the wake of the social and economic disruption of COVID-19.Overseen by HESA and outsourced to IFF Research, GO is gaining attention today because it is used as the basis of many metrics in HE and in particular in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Over the coming weeks and months GO will be used to examine statistics on graduate employment, unemployment and underemployment.Importantly, data from the next few years will be used to examine the impact of COVID-19 on graduates and will form crucial parts of the key information set that is used to inform anyone thinking of applying to university about the prospects of those graduating from the courses they want to apply for.[#pullquote#]data from the next few years will be used to examine the impact of COVID-19 on graduates[#endpullquote#]The data published today tells us that, 15 months after graduation, 71% of leavers were working, 10% were combining work and study (so doing one or the other full time and the other activity part time), 9% were in further study, 5% were unemployed (including those who had a job to go to in the future – about 20% of those unemployed) and 6% were doing something else, usually travelling or caring for family members.But there’s a great deal more to GO than just a set of metrics, and there’s a great deal in it that will be of interest to the Jisc community.Taking a look at historical data is interesting too. UK universities have been collecting statistics on graduate outcomes for a considerable period. Some institutions have figures going back into the Victorian age, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s and early 1960s that a concerted effort was made to collect data on a national level. UK university graduates were surveyed six months after they had left university to find out which jobs they were doing.Reading these reports is a fascinating window into universities’ past and what they saw as their purpose.[#pullquote#]the number of men entering the clergy was tracked separately as was, rather embarrassingly in the modern age, the number of women graduates moving on to secretarial college.[#endpullquote#]For example, the number of men entering the clergy was tracked separately as was, rather embarrassingly in the modern age, the number of women graduates moving on to secretarial college. The survey continued with the same basic format, with additions over the years to gather information on further study and a separate output for polytechnics.By the 90s, HESA was producing an annual First Destination Survey (FDS) of graduates six months after leaving university. It had evolved into an exercise that formed some of the crucial bedrock upon which a good deal of careers and employability guidance rested.The later Destination of Leavers of Higher Education Survey (DHLE) was a further development that incorporated part-time learners for the first time. DLHE continued as a survey of all leavers – at any level, from HND right up to PhD – from every accredited UK HE institution.[#pullquote#]Things changed significantly with the introduction of the TEF in 2017.[#endpullquote#]Things changed significantly with the introduction of the TEF in 2017. Metrics derived from DLHE became central to performance indicators for institutions. DLHE captured the interest of stakeholders across the sector: in planning offices, registry, senior management and policy functions.To more effectively serve the needs of a new group of users, to position the survey more towards performance measures and to address certain questions about quality and data consistency, the new GO was developed, surveying graduates 15 months after graduation.Crucial changes included that switch in reference date, which means it is no longer possible or desirable to compare to DHLE. Institutions no longer collect and code their own data.For more information on the background to these decisions, HESA has a guide examining the context for the switch to a 15-month survey, and another guide looking in depth at the methodology.The GO is a massive round-up of everything new graduates did. This means it provides a comprehensive picture of all the jobs and courses that were available to graduates in the 15 months after graduation and which route they decided upon.[#pullquote#]The data can be sliced in a myriad of ways, but from the student-facing perspective, it has particular uses in looking at the way jobs markets and job-seeking evolve, in how graduates move around the country, and how graduates view their choices.[#endpullquote#]The data can be sliced in a myriad of ways, but from the student-facing perspective, it has particular uses in looking at the way jobs markets and job-seeking evolve, in how graduates move around the country, and how graduates view their choices.Our data and analytics and student experience teams will be making heavy use of this data, but there’s plenty in there to interest us all.
  • How can colleges and universities keep critical services running smoothly during clearing and enrolment in lockdown?
    There’s never a ‘good’ time to suffer a cyber attack, but there are certainly a few dates in the year when the financial and reputational effects of a website or email failure will be more damaging than others. One of those key periods is approaching right now for the further and higher education sector: clearing and enrolment.During this time, institutions need to ensure all internet-facing systems such as websites, virtual private networks (VPN), SIP/telephone and email systems are running smoothly and uninterrupted.During July and October 2019, our security operations centre (SOC) noticed 197 DDoS attacks against the further and higher education sector, which represents about two thirds of all such attacks on the Janet Network in this period. These attacks are designed to bring down a network by flooding it with data.Because of the coronavirus, which has forced almost all staff to work at home, VPNs - which protect data by encrypting it before it travels over the internet - are more important than ever. As more people are using them, they have become more of a target in the last few months.[#pullquote#]It’s a sad fact that cyber criminals always find ways to take advantage of global disasters and during the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.[#endpullquote#]It’s a sad fact that cyber criminals always find ways to take advantage of global disasters and during the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. There’s been much in the media about phishing attacks connected with the virus, and the National Cyber Security Centre has encouraged the public to flag such scams.  [#pullquote#] the threats remain the same, it’s the methods and targets that tend to adapt to new situations.[#endpullquote#]But none of this recent nefarious activity is unusual in cyber space. Indeed, our security operations center (SOC), which monitors and protects the Janet Network, reports that it’s business as usual; the threats remain the same, it’s the methods and targets that tend to adapt to new situations.Colleges and universities that have robust cyber security measures in place should be as safe as they can be at any time of year, including during clearing and enrolment, but not all institutions are as well protected as they could be.  This unprecedented lockdown presents some additional challenges for IT and security staff who have had to respond at speed to support thousands of staff and students to work and study remotely, while keeping data safe.[#pullquote#]For many, clearing and enrolment is also going to be very different this year, with the need for reliable alternative approaches in place[#endpullquote#]For many, clearing and enrolment is also going to be very different this year, with the need for reliable alternative approaches in place for processing these requests.So, universities and colleges looking for that ‘extra’ bit of DDoS security and/or peace of mind through clearing and enrolment this year can benefit from our one-off critical services protection package running between July and October 2020.This new DDoS protection package is being offered as part of our existing critical services protection service (previously known as enhanced DDoS mitigation) to protect a range of business-critical services including web, SIP, VPN, VLEs and firewalls.To find out more, email securityservices@jisc.ac.uk or speak to your speak to your account manager.