IT Projects Digest Michaelmas term 2022

This is a pivotal moment for IT Projects. We have just completed a number of major projects and a raft of new projects are just starting up, some under the umbrella of Digital Transformation - more on that very soon! In this article, we look back at our recent successes, and forward to what’s coming in the 2022/23 academic year.

Ongoing and recently completed projects:

Chorus phone system upgrade

In July we carried out an upgrade to Chorus, the University’s phone system, to provide increased system stability and security, bring Chorus back into support and replace ageing hardware. As part of this work, nearly 1,500 people moved from Chorus to Telephony over Teams in June, ahead of the upgrade, so they could carry on using equivalent online features that weren’t included in the upgraded version of Chorus. We are currently working to automate requests made by Telephone Coordinators to move people to Telephony over Teams.

  • If you are interested in moving from a Chorus handset to Telephony over Teams, please contact your local Telephone Coordinator (requires SSO).

Wireless replacement project provides new managed wireless service

The COWLSHUR project has been rolling out new Juniper Mist technology to replace existing equipment and provide a reliable, robust and secure Wi-Fi service for the University. In total, 1,872 new 'wireless access points' have been installed in 231 buildings. The new Managed Wireless Service replaces the legacy 'COWLS' service and is fully supported by the specialist Managed Network Services team within IT Services.

Inclusive Teaching Enhancements

The Inclusive Teaching Enhancements Project aimed to help Oxford make inclusive teaching the default practice by designing-in and enabling inclusive teaching practice within Canvas, our VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and its associated tools.

  • Read a case study, which provides an overview of the project and its key deliverables


This long-running project has, since 2021, been transitioning University open-book exams and coursework submission to the Inspera assessment platform. Online exams have now run for a full academic year with minimal project support, and, as of October 2022, the use of Inspera for coursework submissions will also be taken on entirely by the Exams and Assessment team.

e-Assessments Exam Adjustments

This project has delivered a new form for colleges and Disability Advisory Services to apply for exam adjustments for students within eVision and have them assessed and processed to completion.

HESA Data Futures

This project has delivered updates to the student information we collect and send to HESA, and converted the return to a new format. This is now succeeded by the next phase which will see extensive further changes to Student Self-Service, updates to the data we collect for off-venue activity, and the frequency of HESA data returns.

New back-up services in place

The Back-up Service Replacement Project invested in the latest technology, to deliver a service with improved recovery times, back-up speed and capacity management, and more robust back-up arrangements for University-wide applications. People with single-user workstations and laptops can now access the Code42 cloud-based service, while for those with other requirements, including servers and multi-user systems, the IBM Spectrum Protect disk-based service has replaced the old tape-based facility.

Museum Collections Online

The Collections Online project is extending the solution already in place at the Museum of Natural History and the History of Science Museum for accessing collections data online to the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums. The project started in April and is due to deliver the new interfaces in Spring 2023.

Collections and Digital Asset Management Systems

The GLAM Museums Collections Management System (CMS) and Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS) project is implementing a Digital Asset Management system at the Ashmolean, History of Science and Pitt Rivers Museums, providing a system to store, organise and manage digital files and media. The Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums are also now live with a new Collections Management System, used to manage data about objects in the collection and their use. The implementations are due to complete in January 2023.

Projects starting up:

Enhancing Canvas and inclusive teaching

We are planning to make further changes and 'get the basics right' in the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to maintain engagement of current users and meet the evolving needs of departments, academics, and students. It will also build on the achievements of the Inclusive Teaching Enhancements Project, doing more to help deliver a consistent and accessible learning environment for all Oxford students. This is another digital experience the University is improving as part of Oxford’s Digital Transformation.

  • Delivering incrementally throughout 2023 and 2024

VPN Replacement

We will be replacing our existing VPN (Virtual Private Network) system, which allows people to securely access University systems, to keep the hardware in support and introduce additional features, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), that will improve both the quality and security of the service.

  • Expected Spring 2023

In-person typed exams

This year we will be working with the Exams and Assessment team to extend the University's capacity to centrally-run in-person, typed exams.

  • Expected March 2023

Marks Management, Phase 2

A new approach for marks management is being trialled which will have exam marks, and the calculation for degrees, being performed in eVision SITS

  • Expected in 2024