MERTHYR TYDFIL COLLEGE
(University of Glamorgan)
Functional Development Plan 2008/09
Functional Area: Computer Services (LCSS)
Strategic Aim: STRATEGIC AIM 5:
To enhance the use of Information Technology in
relation to Learning and Support
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 1
The aim of the document is three fold; to briefly outline the activities undertaken by the department,
provides planned developments as identified by the department itself and also as a reaction from
development plans of other areas, and lastly, offers proposals for consideration.
Caveat: Development plans of other areas are a significant source to draw upon in order to
construct the development plans for the computer services department. Unfortunately, at this stage
only a small quantity of plans have been received and reviewed.
Also, the budget setting process is usually based around completed development plans but this year
the initial budget setting process took place in advance of the development plans being completed so
there may be a necessity to revisit both the budgets and this development plan as the month(s)
1. RANGE OF ACTIVITIES:
a. Provide support for all aspects of information systems (IS) and information technology (IT)
across Merthyr Tydfil College (MTC) within both the educational and business environments
ensuring systems are maintained to an acceptable level of reliability.
b. Support all computer resources, currently at 600, and users, currently in region of 3000
students and 300 staff.
c. Develop MTC’s technology and infrastructure, ensuring standardisation with University of
Glamorgan (UoG) where applicable
d. Provide planning & implementation strategies in order to maintain the quality of provision in
the light of changing needs of the education and business sectors.
e. Investigate developments in the field and provide feedback to relevant forums.
f. Develop and maintain MTC’s electronic communications infrastructure, including e-mail
g. Monitor utilisation of the equipment and arrive at a predicted replacement ‘Life Cycle’.
h. Ensure MTC, where financially viable, keeps up to date with current developments and
changes in both the education and business sectors.
i. Recommend development of policies relating to IT infrastructure.
j. User maintenance with moodle user accounts.
k. Not…responsible for delivering IT staff training, although contribute to acquisition of
l. Not…responsible for web administration, although support the various hardware.
m. Not…Supporting Moodle hardware infrastructure. This is currently carried out by University
2. MANAGER’S RESPONSIBILITY:
a. Oversee and manage the day to day operations within the IT department, including support
b. Reporting to various management forums, both at MTC and UoG.
c. Consider recommendations for improvements from various staff and student groups,
including Student Focus Group.
d. Regular membership and contribution to various groups/committees, in particular;
MTC’s functional managers group
MTC’s Quality committee
MTC’s Faculty Board
MTC’s Proposals & Learning Support committee
LCSS Infrastructure and Technology group
LCSS Information Systems Managers group
LCSS Staff Development group
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 2
FFORWM FE IT Systems Managers group
e. Contribute to MTC’s strategic aim, specifically No5 (TO ENHANCE USE OF
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN RELATION TO LEARNING AND SUPPORT).
f. To oversee and manage IS related strategic and capital projects, and respective IS budget(s)
3. STUDENT ENVIRONMENT
Each year, a significant amount of Capital budget is required to carry out scheduled replacement of
IT hardware. The replacement is based on various technological factors, such as the hardware no
longer being fit for purpose or technological advancements. Often, financial factors are considered,
such as it simply being more economical to replace than continue support of the existing platform.
a. Student Computers
Due to a significant capital investment over the last two years for ICT equipment as a result of
the merger with the University of Glamorgan the quantity of student computer identified for
replacement is considerably lower than previous years. In addition to the replacement of
computer, laser printers within have been identified for replacement.
In readiness for 08/09 it is suggested that the following student computer provision are
considered for replacement;
Replacement computers (36);
• WBL: 20 computers
• Motor Vehicle: 16 computers
Additional computers (20);
Development plans of other areas have outlined their desire to increase computer provision
within these areas;
• WBL: 16 computers – based on the need to create an additional IT suite, if contract
increases. WBL Manager has requested budget request.
• Business & Office Tech: 4 computers - although not received copy of development
plan for review, conversation with head of department is for increase of model office
provision. Head of Department has made budget request.
It is has become necessary to fit all computers with adequate security kit. Because of the
additional cost involved this will be addressed when computers are replaced/purchased.
Also, to ensure current reliability levels are maintained, and in turn reduce the impact on the
maintenance revenue budget, all computers will be purchased with a four year parts warranty.
b. Digital Audio Visual (aka Data Projector) bundles
With reference to appendix one, there has been a considerable increase in the digital data
projector provision within classrooms during the years of 2005/06 and 2006/07 seeing the
installation of 30 additional bundles over this period. It is suggested that along with a further
small increase finance is focused on upgrading the oldest equipment which is becoming
expensive to maintain, and also ensure a uniform setup throughout the rooms.
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 3
• Replacement and/or upgrade of 5x aging digital AV suites.
• Additional installations, in response to academic area development plans:
Technology x 2 – head of technology request.
Rooms 225, & Construction class room.
Services to people: x3
Rooms 406, 413, & 419.
Adult Continuing Education: x2
Room 23 & 25.
Services to Business: x1
Room 304 – HoD has made separate request for budget.
FYI, the cost various depending on whether the bundle is to include an interactive whiteboard
(£3,850) or a motorised display screen (£3,100). Also, cost will vary dependant on whether a
computer etc needs to be purchased. Therefore, it is imperative that the originator of the request
should justify exactly what is required otherwise there may be an unnecessary budgetary impact.
c. Network Infrastruture
It is essential that whether possible reliable and resilient system are in place for both the
academic and business environments. To be able to achieve this, the first step is to ensure that
the server that host/support current resources are replaced whenever they are no longer fit for
purpose or when it becomes uneconomical not to replace. Therefore, two have been identified
Network device replacement:
The need exists to replace a number of the network’s switch devices, again to ensure a reliable
service is provided. A side benefit of this would that the new phone system could be expanded
across to the users at the WBL Merthyr site.
d. Email System
The current server is reaching the end of its useful economic life and is being replaced as part of
the college’s hardware refresh program. This presents the college with the opportunity to
improve the services it offers around messaging as the replacement server is more modern with
a superior specification and increased storage space as compared to the existing server.
Ann additional driver to migrate to a new system is that lecturers consider it often difficult to
communication with students electronically as many students opt not to use their MTC email
account instead favoring a service provider such as yahoo, hotmail etc. This is perceived to be
for two reasons;
 Not sufficient storage space provided for students,
 No remote access to email mailbox for students.
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 4
Providing the new server, with additional storage, would allow provision of additional storage to
mailboxes, moreover, students, like staff, will be able to access their mail remotely using
Outlook Web Access (something that is not available to students at present as their mail does
not reside on the server).
Budget is already in place so there is a possibility that this will be addressed over the July –
August 08 period. Therefore, this does not appear in the budget request for 2008/09.
e. Migration to Office 2007
The decision has been made to migrate to the latest version of Microsoft Office within the
student environments. The plan is to carry out this migration during the summer period in
readiness for September 2008. Computers in the staff environments will be upgraded on request.
To provide academic staff with the required knowledge to be able to update notes and delivery to
students using the new version, training will be arranged by MTC’s UGCS department and
offered w/c June 30th 2008. In addition to training, manuals and other literature is to be
purchased for MTC’s LRC.
There is no further cost implication for licencing of this version of the software although IT
support staff will invest time into building a package to facilitate easier installation of the
f. Apple Macintosh provision
In readiness for 2007/08 an apple macintosh network was implemented for the various apple
provision. At the time the need for storage was considerable underestimated therefore the need
exists to investigate, purchase and implement a satisfactory network address storage solution.
Not to do this would limit the students’ ability to roam between apple computers and labs and be
able to access their files from a central repository.
g. Digital Signage
MTC has had a very basic digital signage system for a number of years, which is basically a
single large plasma screen located in reception notifying staff, students and visitors of activities
and information. Two areas, Marketing and the LRC, have expressed interest to implement
improved systems within their areas.
Ideally, a single system that could satisfy both areas should be provided which would benefit
from centralised management/administration.
At the moment, very little work has been done investigating systems.
4. STAFF ENVIRONMENT
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 5
Using the same criteria as used when identifying student computers for replacement, twenty staff
computers have been identified. The list will be circulated to relevant department heads in due
At this point in time no request has been made from other department heads for this to increase
or for the IT budget to provide additional computers.
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 6
a. Document Management
At the moment, the College’s document management system basically comprises of documents
being posted to relevant areas of the organisation’s intranet. The administration of this function
is currently done by one person, the Web Developer.
From experience of using current document management, conversation with other users and
interested parties, plus a desire of the Quality Manager to implement a more appropriate system
it is suggested that the organisation adopt an alternative document management system. The new
system should provide grater flexibility, allowing nominated administrators to manage relevant
areas, provide improved structure, and in response to the Quality Manager’s desire ideally
provide document tracking.
At this moment, no significant effort has been expended into evaluating solutions therefore this is
simply an ‘expression of interest’ that may require budget investment in the coming year should
the organisation wish to implement.
b. Texting / SMS system
Its apparent that a significant number of our students have mobile phone therefore the
organisation should consider the benefit of adopting a Texting (SMS) based service to contact
Initially, it is perceived that the use would be for business related functions such as assisting with
student retention, i.e. notifying students of term start dates, contacting absent students etc. Use
for academic delivery also needs to be considered.
c. Lower printing budget
It is evident that printing takes up a considerable amount of expenditure, both staff related
printing and the subsidising of printing for students, and it is suggested that in conjunction with
reprographics department ways of reducing this expenditure has to be investigated and options
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 7
There is a very distinct possibility that the computer services department will loose a valuable
member of staff from the 1st August 2008, i.e. junior desktop support officer role, as the ESF
funding which had funded his role for the last year has now come to an end. There is a slim
possibility that the post holder may be retained using an under spend of HEFCW integration
project budget, although at this stage HEFCW haven’t replied agreeing to this alternative spend.
Losing a member of staff, would significantly impact upon the level of service the department
could offer, and to expand on services and resources yet further would obviously add yet a
further drain. Therefore, the proposal of the IT System Manager is for the senior management of
MTC to consider no further expansion of resources or services, with the exception of resource
replacements, until the computer services department is returned to its current staffing level as
outlined in appendix1.
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 8
a. Physical Resources:
In order to provide a indicator of how the dependency on the department has increased over
recent years the simplest method is to use quantifiable measures, such as the physical resources
the department supports, rather than focus on qualitative measures such as how the use of the
various IT/IS systems has altered.
For this purpose, the physical resources that the ‘customer’ would have most contact with would
of course be computers and digital AV provision.
2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08
Computers (PCs & 411 498 562 615
Computers 17 29 38 47
Digital AV (fixed 16 34 46 50
b. Human Resources:
Currently, five staff comprising of;
IT Systems Manager
1x Network Support Officer
2x Desktop Support Officer
1x Junior Desktop Support Officer
A survey of seventeen Welsh FEI’s, conducted in 2006/07, found that the average count of
computers (PCs, mobile devices & apple macintosh computers) to operational support staff was
167:1. Within MTC the current figure is 1: 150. Unfortunately, this exercise hasn’t been
conducted since therefore its not possible to provide an current benchmark.
Ashley Evans (IT Systems Manager) 2008/09 FDP v1.1 9