Vice-chancellors and senior executives from more than 40 UK universities have contributed to a new framework, launched today, to help higher education leaders realise the benefits of a long-term strategic approach to digital technology.
University leaders, together with Jisc and other sector partners Emerge Education and Universities UK (UUK), and technology partner Salesforce.org, collaborated on Digital at the core: a 2030 strategy framework for university leaders as part of the learning and teaching reimagined initiative.
The long-term digital strategy framework has been developed in response to the need for greater clarity around the role of digital in the delivery of institutional strategies, identified from dozens of one-to-one interviews and roundtables with leaders.
Designed to work with each university’s unique mission, circumstances and capabilities, the framework sets a series of questions for senior leaders to ask to help identify strategic opportunities that digital technology can provide.
The questions are focused on four key themes – leadership, staff, business model and investment – and act as prompts for internal discussion. They provide the structure for leaders to take ‘deep dive’ explorations around big questions such as:
- Is there sufficient digital awareness among the executive team for them to make informed decisions in core strategic areas?
- How can we encourage and embed a culture of experimentation and continuous improvement that lets staff make the most of digital tools in their work?
- How will our students’ needs and expectations change over the next decade and how can we provide a digital experience that will meet or exceed them?
David Maguire, chair of the learning and teaching reimagined advisory board and interim vice-chancellor and principal at the University of Dundee, says:
“When the pandemic hit, some universities already had digital embedded throughout and were able to adapt quickly, while many found themselves casting around for ideas, skills and technologies. What it has shown is that developing a long-term strategy for digital is now more essential than ever, despite such evolving and uncertain circumstances.
"Thanks to the generous contributions of my peers, we have been able to build a framework which addresses that challenge and supports better outcomes for students, staff and the sector as a whole.”
Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, and chair of the Long-Term Strategy Network at Universities UK, says:
“Strategic planning is vital, but when the future is unknown and volatile, making the right decisions can be challenging. Digital technologies that were ‘nice to have’, as a result of COVID-19 have become vital. I am proud to have been a part of a cross-sector group led by Emerge Education that has put together this long-term strategy framework to support senior teams in planning the future role of digital technologies.
“Each organisation will have its own particular character, and as such the framework does not attempt to provide a one-size-fits-all model. Instead it raises questions we hope will be useful to any organisation going through the process of designing and implementing a long-term digital strategy.”
Nathalie Mainland, general manager and senior vice-president, Salesforce.org Education Cloud, says:;
“Higher education is at a turning point globally. And there is a tremendous opportunity to reimagine how the sector in the UK should evolve using technology, a pivotal step required to thrive in the next normal. Salesforce.org is proud to work alongside industry peers to develop a framework for digital transformation that will inevitably shape and contribute to future learner and institution success.”
To learn more about the learning and teaching reimagined initiative, join our free webinar on Wednesday 4 November 2020 for exclusive first access to co-created, sector-wide research and recommendations for creating a desirable future for HE.