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1.apply and evaluate techniques for the strategic analysis of the organisation’s competitive environment as the context for effective IT systems strategy development in higher education (universities).

2.critically appraise the role of IT systems strategies in contributing to sustainable competitive advantage in higher education (universities)


This report describes a research project in the Department of information technology at Leeds University.

The university was recognized in 1904 and is one of the major higher education institutions in the UK, they're famous internationally for the excellence of their teaching and research.  With over 30,000 students the university is the seventh biggest in the UK  out of 166 university's, from 2006 to present Leeds university has constantly been ranked within the top five together with Manchester university, Manchester metropolitan university, Nottingham university and Edinburgh university. The university of Leeds is a Russell group university, the university was at first was named the Yorkshire college of science way back in 1831 and then purely named Yorkshire college. It built-in the Leeds school of medicine and became part of the federal Victoria university together with Owens college. In 1904 a royal charter formed in 1903, was approved to the University of Leeds by King Edward VII (Leeds, 2017).

The university's mission is to offer students with outstanding education, opportunities for all-round personal growth and a life-changing experience, also to graduate worldwide people who are ready for the future and ready to make a difference. To be an exceptional research university, to be placed within the UK's top ten and achieving major real terms increases in research income. To allow students to develop on their academic prospective, their employability, their global and educational insight and their moral awareness to progress their potential to profit business and the society (Leeds, 2017).

 The Leeds university leadership and management standard establishes a baseline set of principles and behaviours which anyone with leadership and management responsibilities should show. This standard was formed by taking information from a selection of sources together with the university values, equality standards and the health and safety executive, with response received from a extensive cross section of leaders and managers throughout the University. The university uses the people management framework, this allows their faculties, schools and services alter their performance. They have based it on best practice in HR management and staff engagement and it also focuses on outcomes, outlining what they need to attain but it doesn't state how they should do it. This method gives the university a level of flexibility in applying the framework, while working within the university's policies and procedures (, 2017). The university gather data every year to permit them to observe whether the actions they put in place are making the improvements they require.

Mission and Objectives

The university's determined strategic plan is underpinned by a selection of strategic initiatives as well as a constant improvement activity spanning right across the establishment. All these activities bring benefits to the university, moving the university closer to its desired future position. To deliver this goal the business change team supply an integrated, professional and institutionally regular service to lead and maintain business change, allowing university best practise in change and project management.

  • Draw on their knowledge, skills, and proficiency to form and deliver strategically associated change initiatives
  • Use their techniques, tools and frameworks flexibly, choosing those that help them distribute change successfully
  • Apply those tools in a way that works in higher education and delivers tangible benefits for students and staff
  • Ask for feedback on their approach and their tools, techniques and frameworks in order to build on that feedback so they can continually improve
  • Ensure their tools, techniques and frameworks are made accessible for the benefit of the whole university

If strategic planning in higher education is intended correctly, it can generate space for combined implementation and become the string that holds the internationalisation process together. Which means it can act to reinforce the culture and allow the university to turn into the institution it wants to be (, 2017).

An IT outsourcing strategy is a plan copied from assessing which IT functions are well performed by an IT outsourcing service supplier than by an organisations internal IT department. The aim of an IT outsourcing strategy is to offer the finest potential technology to the organisation at the least possible cost (Kirk, 2010). An IT outsourcing strategy can engage input from several similar departments including legal, operations, human resources and supply chains. The reliability for the outcome of an IT outsourcing strategy normally lies with the organisations chief information officer.

The university of Leeds has strategic partners that are developed from a shared interest in student opportunity, research and culture. With clear aims and objectives they work together to make sure they develop mutual value.

  • Opera North
  • Met Office
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Santander
  • Arup
  • Procter & Gamble

Partner organisations can commission and work together in large impact research projects, develop and make use of intellectual property, access knowledge through consultancy services and discover opportunities to work with their other partners. These partners can employ the most suitable staff through offering exclusive placements and recruitment of Leeds university's high level graduates.


  • By outsourcing the university can focus on what they do best and let other professional organisations focus on what they do best which is the IT
  • Allows access to more knowledge and experience, the university can gain access to additional experts who can add to the university's knowledge and skills
  • Reduces and controls operating costs, when an organisation outsources they get rid of the costs related with hiring an employee, such as management oversight, training, health insurance, employment taxes, retirement plans etc.
  • Outsourcing improves company focus, it lets the company focus on their main competencies while another company focuses on theirs
  • Reduces the risk of a costly wrong decision, professional outsourced IT providers know what is right and what is not, this type of knowledge and experience significantly reduces risks that the university may have


  • Unexpected costs is a downfall associated with IT outsourcing, an outside expert can help the university asses their technology desires but there's also the risk that they may convince the university to over-invest in technology
  • Data security is one more issue linked with IT outsourcing, accurately planned security systems work by making sure that access to their data is limited to the smallest number of people, engaging a third party IT outsource to the university immediately increases that number
  • When managing IT issues outside the organisation it is a lot harder to priorities the response and keep track of the progress, there is also a genuine risk that the quality of the service could drop if the response time increases
  • Loss of control is a key issue related with IT outsourcing, before the university know it they're paying for stuff that they have no idea how to manage and they cannot do it without the third party, which means they become indispensable, which also means an increase in cost

Big data is presently used in many different services where human resources are involved. Big data has the capability to read large amounts of information which allows to find latest patterns in customer actions and trends. The big data method has also been used in an area which is not related to sales which is higher education.

Big data allows to find new trends amongst students and teachers which were not possible before, it has helped develop new methods for education ever since its implementation inside higher education. adaptive learning is one of the main results of this methodology, this methodology revolves around the idea of a completely modified teaching method thanks to all of the data gathered such as age, skills and abilities of the target students (Williamson, 2017).

Leadership and Management

Another area where big data can be useful in universities is in improving student retention and student success. Data can help offer better targeted support based on student needs and help develop teaching and learning strategies. A major key that will benefit  both students and universities is student retention and student success.

Using data universities can also assess a variety of student services for capacity and resource planning, budgeting and scheduling for example facility usage, library spaces, resources, cafeteria and meal services and a lot more (Sagenmüller, 2017).

The bigger the data the bigger the target it is for criminals who are trying to steal it, universities collect and use different types of student data so they need to ensure this data is kept safe. Data such as financial information, personal information and academic information (Daniel, n.d.).

Leeds university will have to be aware of the risks associated with big data, student privacy can become a major risk factor when implementing this system. Recording and storing students and teachers data without their consent does not only imply an ethical dilemma but could also turn into a legal one. Leeds university have designed tight controls and procedures to make sure that data is always accessed and used correctly. Professor Jeremy Wyatt, chairman of the university's academic affairs group says that researchers will only be issued with and authorised login to access the data once they have applied for, and received, the relevant ethics permission. They will also have to complete a short e-learning course to obtain their login details (The EvoLLLution, 2017).

The use of big data in education has just started, meaning its full potential has not yet been discovered. Alongside technological advances and a better functioning of IT, there is always room for improvement in this area, with new methodologies to develop, increase retention and assist students to progress better


Daniel, B. (n.d.). Big data and learning analytics in higher education.

Kirk, S. (2010). IT outsourcing. Hershey, Pa.: IGI Global (701 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 17033, USA). (2017). The People Management Framework (PMF) - University of Leeds Human Resources. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017]. (2017). The University strategy, values and standards - University of Leeds Human Resources. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Leeds, U. (2017). Heritage. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Leeds, U. (2017). Values and responsibility. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Sagenmüller, I. (2017). Use of Big Data in Higher Education. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Williamson, B. (2017). Big data in education. London: SAGE Publications.

The EvoLLLution. (2017). Big Data and Big Risks: Protecting Higher Education from Cyberattack. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

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