Particular course information related issues for this type of institution:
- The need to reach a specific target market where many learners may not have the benefit of school or college support structures to help them make their decisions
- The need to protect subjects at risk as a result of changes to the funding regime
- Organisations may be small with relatively limited resources
- Complexity is not necessarily related to size hence the data demands on these HEIs are no less than on larger providers
A factor that occurred across all of the programmes contributing to this guide but which was very marked in relation to this type of organisation is the value of being part of a Jisc community. It seems as though, through being part of a structured programme, small and specialist institutions in particular developed their own capabilities in ways that would not have been possible without access to these expert communities:
"The Courtauld, as a small and specialist college, has benefitted enormously from the opportunity to meet with other colleges to share ideas and resources. Our understanding … has developed significantly as a result of these interactions, and we have profited from pooled knowledge and skillsets."
The Courtauld Institute of Art
"The opportunity to disseminate, gain feedback and network with others within the sector has been invaluable throughout this project and the benefits of doing so should be passed on to other projects."
Plymouth College of Art
Interesting examples from our case studies:
Birkbeck, University of London specialises in part-time, evening higher education for non-traditional students although offering an increasing number of courses by distance learning. Its review revealed vulnerabilities in its existing IT systems and bringing stakeholders together showed, for the first time, the complexity of its processes. Birkbeck has implemented a revised infrastructure and processes that achieve greater organisation-wide ownership of data quality.
Plymouth College of Art discovered that prospective art and design students wish to see relevant course staff profiles and related research/professional practice, as well as course details, before making a decision about where they wish to study. The college has implemented staff profiles in its Mahara application and has created an aggregator site whereby creative arts institutions are working together to promote courses in the arts. The college has also created the facility in Moodle to promote further learning opportunities to students at appropriate points in their course and has released this as an open source application for other institutions.
St George’s, University of London specialises in medical education. Improvements such as collecting information for the prospectus and website at validation have resulted in administrative efficiencies. Information sharing with partners has also improved with the XCRI-CAP standard being applied to a new NHS short course portal.