Polycom®, Microsoft® Lync™ and HP Collaboration Brings Unified Communications to the University of West of England to Boost Productivity and Save £100,000 in Annual Travel Costs
Boosts staff productivity through access to video collaboration and online meetings from the desktop
Increases student productivity by enabling remote video calls to tutors saving on travel times and costs to help UWE to consistently be rated as First Class in the People and Planet Green League and to be certified with the Carbon Trust Standard.
Enables distance learning across Europe, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the USA.
Polycom, Inc., announced that the University of the West of England (UWE), the largest provider of Higher Education in the South West of England, is providing Polycom® RealPresence® video collaboration solutions across its network of campuses to staff and students. UWE is one of the largest universities in the UK, offering over 600 courses at undergraduate, post-graduate and short-course levels, with 30,000 student and 3,000 staff spread over four campuses in and around Bristol. The university is creating a high-definition global video network to connect this extended campus with its partner universities and colleges located throughout Europe, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the USA. This video network is part of a larger; £300 million investment the university is making to overhaul its global ICT infrastructure to improve the student experience. The university launched the ICT transformation program in 2010, to develop strategic partnerships with tier one technology vendors including HP for network infrastructure, Microsoft for Microsoft® Lync™, and Polycom for RealPresence video collaboration solutions. The goal was to share the university’s IT development plans so that the consortium could provide input and share best practice examples achieved in other business sectors.
“We want to work with ‘best in class’ technology companies when purchasing equipment for the university,” said Steve Grive, Director, Information Communications Technology, University of the West of England. “For video conferencing and collaboration, that is Polycom. We chose Polycom primarily for the quality of its RealPresence video solutions, and secondly because of the strength of its strategic relationships and product-compatibility with both HP and Microsoft, so that the three best-in-class solutions will be easy to deploy and use without the need to re-educate staff internally.”
HP deployed a next-generation network and provided the integration of the Polycom and Microsoft solutions for unified communications. Polycom video collaboration solutions are core to UWE’s distance learning and video-on-demand initiatives.
“As a large organisation with many international partners, we needed to connect our diverse communities with technologies that would help save time and costs,” continues Steve Grive. “With HP’s help, we were able to use Polycom video collaboration solutions and Microsoft Lync to transform communications across our global network, as well as between students and staff for an enhanced learning experience.”
The combination of Microsoft Lync and Polycom video collaboration provides an end-to-end unified communications solution that offers a highly personalised experience, where users can click a name on their Lync contact list and instantly meet with a colleague face-to-face via Polycom video. UWE have also extended their video collaboration to include nine video collaboration suites featuring Polycom® HDX® 7000 and HDX® 4000 Room Telepresence Solutions, strategically placed in every campus facility around Bristol and Gloucester.
The new video network is already having a significant impact.
Reducing travel costs. Validation meetings – where an international university such as Taylor’s College in Malaysia or other partner universities in Asia are launching a distance program or providing distance learning associated with the UWE – are common and costly. There can be more than six validation meetings a year, with as many as five university staff flying out to help develop material and validate the degree. By meeting face to face virtually using Polycom video collaboration instead, UWE have reduced validation costs by around £25,000, and in addition reduced the travel costs for associated regional agents, offices and ad-hoc partner arrangements, totaling about £100,000 per annum in travel savings. These results have helped the UWE to consistently be rated as First Class in the People and Planet Green League and to be certified with the Carbon Trust Standard.
Increasing student and staff productivity. Staff can make video calls on their desktops and laptops to conduct face-to-face meetings easily with any other staff anywhere in the world, which in turn boosts staff productivity. Students can meet with tutors online, instead of walking between one of four campuses.
Enabling distance learning. Used predominantly for collaboration among the faculty of UWE and other institutions, video collaboration is also used for interactions between UWE staff and international students – for distance learning – for example, when an international college in Asia is running a master’s program associated with UWE and a student wants an interview with his tutor.
Reducing ‘Double Teaching.’ By using the video recording, archiving, and streaming playback capabilities of the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform, the UWE has eliminated the costs associated with “double teaching,” where a lecture has to be held twice to accommodate all interested students. Now the lecture can be viewed in different venues both synchronously and asynchronously (that is, on-demand).