The recent Diamond Review has reformed higher education (HE) and financing for students in Wales, putting student and researcher experience under the microscope.
So now more than ever, it’s fundamental that students and researchers get a learning experience worth every penny. Jisc has been helping to improve this experience in several new endeavours that showcase why Wales is a trailblazer when it comes to sharing information and digital resources.
Times Higher recently reported that:
“A transformation of higher education funding in Wales could give it a “more attractive” system than England by creating “exceptionally generous” support for students’ living costs, funded by ending subsidies for tuition fees.”
If these reforms go ahead, Wales could be set to become an even more popular destination for HE students.
We also know from several surveys that access to digital resources are key to a successful HE experience. Jisc’s student digital experience tracker recently found that approximately three-quarters of HE students (78%) produce work in a digital format. Fortunate then, that Wales is so ahead of the game when it comes to accessing digital resources, thanks to the following recent outcomes.
In a groundbreaking achievement, as of autumn 2016 all universities in Wales, NHS libraries and the National Library of Wales, now share a single bilingual library management system (LMS). Students and researchers can search library collections throughout Wales in a consistent way for the first time, and it is envisaged that the platform will have the potential for a student in one university to access a resource at another.
In 2012, Jisc funded the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) to undertake a feasibility study into having a shared LMS for Wales, and continue to support the shared LMS process for Wales. Collaboration is key in such a venture and Wales is a shining example of how partnership working can make a whole sector achieve an ideal.
At Cardiff and Swansea University Jisc’s new safe share pilot service has already been a great success, enabling competitive research by providing secure access to remote data. The service means that UK researchers can use and share sensitive health, biomedical and administrative data safely and securely by providing encrypted connections over Jisc’s Janet network, the UK’s national research and education network. The secure connection saves precious time and resources.
Simon Thompson, chief technology officer at Swansea University Medical School said:
“What safe share effectively does is run a managed service, so Jisc puts a firewall in an organisation then encrypts traffic so data can go from one place to another, where there will be another Jisc-owned firewall, which can decrypt the data once it arrives.
It's about making things easier on a per-project basis - this project is allowed to talk to an institution and access their datasets – and we can make requests on a more impromptu and flexible basis, because its managed by the system it is guaranteed that all the end points are secure.”
We’re in the information age where big data management is an expectation of consumers, and students and researchers are no different. In this respect, Wales is at the forefront of information sharing and setting an excellent example for those looking to follow in their digital footsteps.