University's virtually in front with Honda F1

Northumbria University has been named one of the top three most IT-enabled organisations in the UK.

Northumbria University has been named one of the top three most IT-enabled organisations in the UK.

It faced stiff competition to be short-listed alongside Honda Formula One and the International Development Agency for the award from the journal Computing.

The top prize will be awarded to the organisation that has shown the most initiative in using IT to deal with challenges, to achieve successes and to position itself apart from the crowd.

Northumbria was shortlisted for its functional, resilient and innovative IT infrastructure - which underpins and enhances university life. Staff and students use the university's innovative desktop ANYWHERE initiative which provides web access to email, files and software from, potentially, anywhere in the world.

Students across the world are able to communicate, access course materials and meet as virtual discussion groups using the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Northumbria has the highest European use of this type of VLE, with overseas connections stretching as far as India and China. Other major IT successes include the wireless network which allows users to connect their personal laptops through any one of 130 wireless hotspots in the university.

This is one of the most extensive wireless networks in the higher education sector and recorded around 110,000 sessions by staff and students between last September and May of this year.

A new student record system, achieved in record time, is another achievement for the university.

Paper-based systems have been replaced this year and students are able to enrol and pay fees online.

Jed Woodhouse, director of Northumbria's IT services, said: "I am delighted that the university has been shortlisted for this major award.

"It comes as recognition for the real achievements we have chalked up in IT in our constant effort to enhance IT provision, increase efficiency and quality of data and reduce duplication."

Vice Chancellor Professor Kel Fidler said: "This is good news for the university and especially for our IT services people who deserve to be congratulated for their success in being shortlisted for this award."

Northumbria will discover whether it has won the top award at a ceremony at London's Battersea Park Arena on October 25.

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