The University of the West of England, Bristol, has recorded saving £100,000 annually by utilising Video Conferencing to connect staff and students. With over 30,000 students and 3,000 staff spread across 4 campuses across the city, the university has moved to new and more effective ways of providing interactive education that can take place both in the lecture theatre, and online.
In 2010, UWE began on their road to improving the student experience through transforming ICT, infrastructure and networks, to become more collaborative and dynamic, and to be able to teach in both the physical and virtual world. The university wanted students and staff to interact in both worlds, whilst enabling collaboration with other universities and colleges around the world.
Through the transformation of the universities ICT, UWE worked with Microsoft, Polycom and HP to create a platform that was ready for their future way of thinking. With a new network infrastructure, UWE deployed Microsoft Lync (now Skype for Business) and Polycom Video Conferencing solutions to enable standards-based unified communications that students could use to collaborate across campuses and transform the learning experience, whilst greatly saving on time & costs.
Staff are now able to use Microsoft Skype for Business from their laptops and connect face-to-face with others via the Polycom RealPresence platform. UWE have also implemented Polycom RealPresence solutions within suites across the university, integrated with recording and playback capabilities on the network that has eliminated the costs associated with “double teaching”.
Although predominantly used for interaction between students and staff in Bristol, the Video Conferencing solutions are also being used for staff to communicate with international students, alongside communicating with other partner universities around the globe. An international college is now using Video Conferencing to communicate with a Bristol based tutor to assist delivery of a new Masters programme at their college.
The Savings & Results
By meeting via Video, UWE has calculated that costs associated with “degree validation” (where degree material is developed and the course is validated internationally) have been reduced by £25,000, and associated travel costs have been reduced by around £100,000.
The university is also pressing forwards with it’s super green status, of which this reduction in travel is assisting towards the Carbon Trust Standard certification.
UWE has a wide international agenda, and supports students from around the world with their education. By implementing Video Conferencing and Collaboration tools, they enhance their international reach and enable a much more productive way to link up with international partners.
Students also are benefiting greatly by utilising technology that prepares them for the future workplace.