IT Projects Digest: Michaelmas term 2023

Our IT Project teams continue to deliver active projects, bringing benefits across the University.  In this term's digest you can read updates about projects and Digital Transformation delivering improved security, better resources for researchers and Canvas users, reliable Wi-Fi, more streamlined card applications and enhanced visibility of the University's collections.

Oxford’s Digital Transformation 

The Digital Transformation programme has continued its focus on the three transformational activities helping to evolve Oxford’s digital landscape. Last term, both the Digital Transformation Case for Support (SSO required) and Oxford’s new Digital Governance Framework and Operating Model were approved by University Council and the IT Infrastructure Service Review recommendations have also been delivered. This recent message from Professor Anne Trefethen, PVC for People & Digital, describes what these decisions mean.

To learn more about the programme:


Oxford Secure

The Oxford Secure project, sponsored by InfoSec in collaboration with Information Compliance, will be rolling out new information security and data privacy training to all staff during Michaelmas term 2023.

People play a critical role in securing information and improved awareness is essential. For the first time a short training course will be offered to students, with additional advice on staying safe online. The new training will be more engaging than the current offering and will help reduce the risk of a major security incident at Oxford. Along with the associated Oxford Secure communications campaign, it will equip staff and students with knowledge, life skills and resources related to information security and data privacy, so they can act as a joined-up human firewall to help safeguard Oxford’s research and teaching objectives. 

If you have any questions, please contact the project team:

Improving wireless across the collegiate University 

Aligned with the implementation of the IT Infrastructure Service Review recommendations and funded through Digital Transformation, a project is working on the vision to provide a consistent and reliable Wi-Fi experience across the entire collegiate University.

The Managed Wireless Service (MWS) from IT Services currently provides Wi-Fi as a shared service to UAS, the Bodleian Libraries, several colleges and over 80 departments, with more units already in the pipeline. The project is building the foundation to engage interested departments and colleges, and plan implementation for 2024 and beyond.  

For departments or colleges joining the service, a full Wi-Fi survey and consultation will be included. This allows an experienced Wi-Fi engineer to design a new Juniper Mist deployment which meets the modern needs of local users. The project will fund the cost of new access points and their licences.

For more information email the project team.

VPN upgrade

The Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which allows us to access the University network when away from Oxford (for example when working from home), was upgraded earlier in 2023 resulting in improved security of the University’s network and systems, not least through the addition of multi-factor authentication (MFA). It has also delivered an improved user experience:

  • high volume Microsoft traffic is no longer sent through the VPN which has resulted in increased capacity so users have a more reliable service and no longer need to be advised to disconnect when not actively using the University network
  • local networks are also no longer routed through the VPN meaning staff and students can now connect to devices, such as home assistants or printers, during an active VPN connection when working away from the University
  • users should always have the latest version with improved security, bug fixes, and any new features because the VPN client now automatically upgrades

For more information see the IT Help website.

University Card service improvements

IT Services is collaborating with the Card Office on the Card Systems Stabilisation project which will deliver a number of enhancements to the process for request and provision of University Cards.  This includes providing updated software for issuing cards, new networked card printers, as well as an improved process for requesting University Cards.

The project team is currently delivering the new card request process which is moving from use of PDF forms and emails to an online application. The new app has been successfully rolled out to UAS, Humanities, the Temporary Staffing Service and MPLS, with further divisions, including Medical Sciences, due to start using it during Michaelmas term 2023.  At present, the following card types can be requested (and processed) via the new app:

  • staff
  • academic visitors
  • departmental visiting students
  • virtual access

The new process and app should deliver a better experience for HR and administrative teams making card requests through:

  • improved visibility of the status of requests in the application process
  • quicker delivery of requested cards because of the reduced number of queries and rejected card requests, resulting from the switch to a web application form incorporating mandatory fields

For more information on the new service please see the outline webpages on the Card Office website.


Research File Service (RFS)

In March 2023, IT Services delivered the new Research File Service (RFS), the University-approved central storage facility for active research data.  RFS is available to all internal research staff offering a reliable, resilient, secure, and scalable service. See more information in the news article.

Principal Investigators and researchers should discuss their research storage requirements with their local IT Support team before requesting RFS storage.

Research Runway

The Research Runway project, which is funded through Digital Transformation, aims to help both researchers and administrators involved in data protection and compliance have an improved experience of setting up governance on research projects. Governance includes information security, ethics review and data protection. For many the task was confusing and time consuming, and hindered by the lack of a single 'source of truth' about what is needed and how to do it.

Sponsored by Stephen Conway, Executive Director of Research Services, Phase 1 of the project has delivered a checklist where researchers can find out what they need to do in what in order, and which forms or tools to use, along with links to more detailed information. While automation of steps in this process is still to come, Phase 1 has shown how this process can become more joined up, and has made it clearer and easier for researchers to follow by bringing all the steps together in one place.

The compliance checklist has been incorporated into the Research Practice webpage, where researchers can find many other tips and guides for pursuing research best practice.


On-course applications (phase II)

In 2020, a project to move ten Graduate Studies Office (GSO) forms into eVision was successfully completed.  

A follow-on project, established as part of the University’s Digital Transformation, is now well underway. This will transfer as many as possible of the remaining GSO forms into eVision, providing a streamlined and consistent experience for those involved in graduate on-course processes. The consolidation of GSO forms into a single, centrally supported system will also reduce the risk of data breaches and unplanned downtime, and lead to significant time savings for academic and administrative staff. 

Find out more about the project on the On-Course Applications (Phase II) project webpage.

Enhancing Canvas and inclusive teaching

The Digital Transformation-funded Canvas Enhancements & Inclusive Teaching Enhancements 2 project continues work to get the basics right in the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment, to maintain engagement of current users and meet the evolving needs of departments, academics, and students. Recent benefits delivered include the introduction of a new page enhancement tool that provides new design features without the need for any specialist skills, and increased capacity for the Oxford Signup Tool when setting up events. 

For more information and the project roadmap, showing what has already delivered and what's in the pipeline, please visit the Canvas Enhancements & Inclusive Teaching Enhancements 2 project webpage.

Engagement and Dissemination


A key aim for Oxford’s Garden’s, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) is to make its world-leading and diverse collections available online for viewing by students, staff, researchers and the general public.

IT Services is focused on supporting GLAM to achieve this aim and an important stride forward in this has been taken with the July launch of the Pitt Rivers Museum Collections Online website, which has been very well received by both museum staff and users. Updates to the Collections Online sites for the Museum of Natural History and the History of Science Museum were also successfully released in July.  In addition, over the summer a wide cross-section of stakeholders reviewed the Ashmolean Museum's new Collections Online site and their feedback is being incorporated into its further development.  We hope to launch the Ashmolean Collections Online in December (with final improvements delivered in early 2024) bringing all of the University's museum websites onto the same platform.

Other key updates from GLAM include:

  • the project to deliver the Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) to the Museum of Natural History (the solution for which is already in place at the other museums) has progressed well with work starting on building the system to meet the museum's requirements. This will enable the Museum of Natural History to store and manage digital versions of its collections for sharing with users including via Collections Online and is expected to take place around the start of the 2024/25 academic year
  • a number of GLAM-related Digital Transformation investigative assignments will be kicking off during this academic year, including a review of how to scale up digitisation activities within GLAM
  • lastly, GLAM is now aligned to the new Engagement & Dissemination portfolio (see more at Introducing Oxford’s new Digital Governance and Delivery approach) and all involved look forward to helping to deliver and improve the digital services and solutions required to help Oxford with its engagement and disseminations objectives  

Transforming Oxford’s digital communications

What was the Mosaic 2 project has now expanded, thanks to Digital Transformation funding, to transform our internal and external communications channels, investing in:

  • a single intranet for the University, and a single web platform for Oxford websites
  • skills and expertise to make the best use of new platforms
  • a more joined up approach to governing and managing our content and platforms leading to intuitive, easy to use and well managed platforms for University staff and the right information, in the right place, at the right time for audiences using our platforms
  • we will also be working closely with the Student Hub project to ensure alignment for staff and students

More information will be available soon on the New CMS Platform webpage.