The University of the Highlands & Islands Takes Higher Education to Students
International IT solutions provider Logicalis UK has completed a significant upgrade of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ (UHI) video conferencing infrastructure. The Cisco-based solution enables the provision of higher education to nearly 8000 students, in an area of Scotland that covers some 15,000 square miles and 90 inhabited islands. Lectures are taught over the VC network and through a partnership of over 50 learning centres located throughout the region, to ensure students enjoy an equal standard of education, regardless of location.
“UHI has challenged and transformed the preconceived ideas of how higher education can be delivered to students: video conferencing is integral to this,” comments Bob Brandie, Senior Video Conference Technician at UHI.
Currently, there are over 7,600 students studying over 200 courses taught in part through the video network, which includes 63 fully equipped studios. Comprised mainly of Cisco endpoints, the network has the benefit of uniformity, thereby reducing the requirements for multi-product training. Engineers can take central control when necessary, enabling, for example, software updates to be made from the operations centre. Brandie comments, “The Cisco TelePresence Management Suite is an invaluable tool in maintaining and upgrading the equipment, as well as aiding technical support.”
Video conferencing permeates every element of UHI, from teaching to recruitment, even to university business meetings, and is critical in the day to day running of the University. In the HR department, for example, both local and international staff recruitment interviews; meetings to notify staff about policy; salary reviews; staff development and appraisals are all conducted by video. Brandie explains, “Our finance committees also meet via VC – we consider it particularly important that the annual salary deliberations are not held up because people are unable to travel! In short there is no area of UHI’s activity which does not involve Video Conferencing in some way.”
Brandie concludes; “Video conferencing is in the ‘DNA’ of the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is pivotal; we simply could not operate without it.”