The University of the West of England (UWE) has overhauled its IT infrastructure and upgraded to a high definition unified communications video solution to aid more efficient teaching and collaboration throughout its global network of partner universities.
In 2010, UWE entered into a five-year collaboration as part of a larger investment to improve the student experience and create a new program of study, internships, and state-of-the-art Education Innovation Centre. The outcome is an ICT transformation program providing simulated work and home settings for students and faculty to educate ‘industry-ready’ innovators who can quickly make a contribution to the UK workforce with their advanced skills.
Through the ICT program the university worked with vendors to develop strategic partnerships. This included electrical systems provider Schneider, partnering with HP for network infrastructure, Microsoft for the Microsoft Lync server, and Polycom for video collaboration solutions.
HP deployed a next-generation network and integrated the Polycom and Microsoft offerings to provide a standards-based, interoperable unified communications solution. One of the program’s major focuses was to improve video facilities and to make it easier for staff and students alike to collaborate.
“As a large organisation with many international partners, we needed to connect our diverse communities with technologies that would help save time and costs,” commented Steve Grive, director, information communications technology, UWE. “With HP’s help, we were able to use Polycom video solutions and Microsoft Lync to transform communications across our global network, as well as between students and staff for an enhanced learning experience.”
Staff at UWE are now able to instantly meet with colleagues face-to-face via video on the Polycom RealPresence Platform. The UWE extended their video collaboration to include nine videoconferencing suites featuring Polycom RealPresence HDX 7000 and HDX 4000 Room Telepresence Solutions.
By using the RealPresence platform’s, UWE has eliminated the costs associated with ‘double teaching’, where a lecture has to be held twice to accommodate all interested students. Lectures are now able to be recorded and streamed from one lecture theatre to another through the use of Polycom RMX 4000 and CMATM 5000.
In addition to meeting with colleagues at other institutions, videoconferencing is also used for interactions between staff and international students, for distance learning and tutor meetings.
Through videoconferencing the university has saved approximately £100,000 a year as it has eliminated the need to travel to partner universities for validation meetings. These reductions have helped the UWE to be consistently rated as First Class in the People and Planet Green League and to be certified with the Carbon Trust Standard.