The second meeting of the MIAP Higher Education Advisory Group took place on Friday. The MIAP (Managing Information Across Partners) programme is intended to facilitate the sharing of data across the whole education sector and to provide a number of shared services including a central learner record.
The Advisory Group has spawned two “think tanks” – one to look at the benefits the programme may deliver and one to review the technical aspects. I chair the technical group. The work of the two groups is interlinked; in considering the benefits there has to be some consideration of the potential cost of the changes required to systems (both process and IT) to deliver those benefits and to build up a business case for the change. I see my role as chair of the group to not only lead on the identification and assessment of technical issues but also to represent the interests of the software suppliers (who will need clear specifications in order to carry our the necessary developments) and to look for other initiatives that may impact on MIAP developments and/or the sector. There were two issues identified ahead of the meeting relating to the adoption of an extended character set; the benefits workshop held as part of the meeting on Friday has identified several more.
The meeting highlighted the complexity of the higher education sector – there were a number of benefits identified but an almost equal number of potential barriers to adoption. Communications will be key in selling the programme to institutions; it will be important that the cases for change are well made if this ambitious programme is to be accepted and deliver benefits to both the individual learners and the institutions.