With a focus on innovating at a global level, the University of Sydney is pushing new boundaries in digital education delivery.
Every business wrestles with IT management to some degree, but few deal with it to the extent of academic institutions. Technology impacts almost every part of university life, from enhancing the student experience and fostering an online campus, to maximising opportunities in research and development and developing curriculum.
Mike Day, who has been Chief Information Officer at the University of Sydney since January 2016, says he and his team are fully aware of the depth of opportunities and challenges underfoot. Yet, he believes one of the University’s biggest challenges – its labyrinth of moving parts – is also its biggest strength.
“The CIO role here is so interesting because it’s so diverse and complex. For instance, there aren’t many companies with 57,000 customers who are essentially allowed behind their firewall – but we’ve got that in our student cohort,” he explains.
Currently ranked in the top 1 percent of universities across the world, the University of Sydney has strategically worked to develop its reputation for innovation.
Its goal is to cultivate an environment where the community not only “embrace best practices, but push boundaries through experimenting and collaborating closely on cross-sector innovation”.
“We have on-board lots of exceptional people, involved in real global innovation, so our work is massively diverse from that point of view,” he says.
Day oversees the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) department of more than 300 full time staff and around 70 contractors, and for their efforts, they monitor and manage a staggering number of projects and portfolios.
They are always looking to answer the question of how they can do things differently, more efficiently and with better outcomes, both within the university, and when preparing students for the real world.
“Working with our colleagues in the Education Portfolio, we investigate how we can use technology to support different ways of learning and teaching. We’re also looking at how we can use tech to support the career development of our students, and give them the right skills to move onto workplaces of the future when they graduate,” Day explains.