The Changing Political and Economic Environment

Master classes at IWMW 2015I suspect that many readers of this blog with, like me, have been very disappointed at the General Election results. The Government is now determined to continue its austerity measures and impose further cuts on public services, including education.

What will the implications be in higher education and, in particular, those involved in the provisions of digital services?

A recent post on the Times Higher Education, Winners and losers in Hefce funding allocations, highlighted the competitive environment we are now working in with the article highlighting the winners (King’s College London) and losers (the University of Manchester) in the REF-based distribution of £1.6bn research funding.

Web Management in a Changing Political and Economic Environment

How will the competitive environment affect those working in support services, such as those with responsibilities for the provision of IT, digital and library services?

Perhaps we will see enforced changes to our well-established culture of sharing and learning from one’s peers. Will it not be inevitable that the ‘winners’ will wish to maintain their completive edge and not share details of how they achieved their successes, unless such sharing is used for marketing purposes?

I fear that we are moving in this direction. I also fear that the focus on individual high-ranking institutions will ultimately reduce the effectiveness and impact of higher education across the UK – competition, in my view, may be fine in sports but is inappropriate in education and other public services.

Perhaps we will see the start of a decline in sharing our experiences and helping buy antibiotics in uk those who have similar responsibilities in other institutions?

A Future Based on Collaboration and Sharing?

I’m pleased to describe how this is not (yet!) happening at the IWMW 2015 event. In fact the opposite is happening with a series of half-day master classes, four being organised by members of institutional web teams and three by commercial organisations, being held for the first time since the IWMW event was launched 19 years ago.

Two of the master classes will provide opportunities to learn from the challenges being faced by web teams based at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Bradford. Two other master classes will provide an opportunity to learn about how agile working practices are being applied at the universities of Bath and Edinburgh. The final three master classes provide perspective from companies who work with the higher education community: Headscape, Terminal Four and Precedent.

I hope that this year’s innovation in the content and structure of the IWMW event demonstrates that there will continue to be a role to play in collaboration and sharing; that those with experience and expertise will continue to share their approaches and that such approaches help to raise the standard and quality of the digital services provides across the UK higher education sector, to the benefit of all.

I hope that this approach is valued across the sector. And note that the deadline for booking for IWMW 2015 is approaching!

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