The glossary defines a set of terms according to their usage in the ICT Strategic Plan. Words in quotation marks are defined elsewhere in the glossary.
Academic freedom – The most fundamental virtue, common to all universities, is academic freedom, which may be defined as the freedom to conduct research, teach, speak and publish, subject to the norms and standards of scholarly inquiry, without interference or penalty, wherever the search for truth and understanding may lead.
Business system – a system which facilitates a business process. Oxford University's Business System and Projects team (BSP) provides “enterprise” business systems which enable Oxford to manage its key resources and carry out its administrative functions efficiently and effectively.
Central ICT Provider – a centrally-funded unit which offers “ICT services” for “Oxford”. Three main providers have been identified: Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS), Business Services and Projects (BSP), and parts of the Oxford University Library Services (OULS).
Collegiate University – a collective description of the University of Oxford, including divisions, colleges, central administration and academic services and University collections. “Oxford” is used synonymously within the ICT Strategic Plan.
Conference of Colleges – a body which represents the common concerns of the colleges of the University of Oxford; negotiates with central University bodies on collegiate matters; appoints members of joint University/College committees; has representation on Council, its committees, and the five Divisional Boards; and acts for intercollegiate discussion and decision-making.
Coordinated decision-making – a structure which provides ”ICT governance” and strategic direction across “Oxford”, determines ICT policy and agrees priorities for central ICT investment.
Core activities – activities which define "Oxford", including research, learning, teaching and administration.
Devolved ICT structure – a heterogeneous set of ICT services, some run centrally, some run locally, some shared, which provides the ICT environment for users.
Directory Services – a networked service from which information can be looked-up and retrieved about available or shared resources, including information about groups, individuals, networked computers, filestore, printers etc. A directory service is commonly used for managing users and desktops on a local network.
e-Administration – administrative services and applications which are delivered to end users over the network. In the public sector e-administration is frequently associated with better transparency and accountability.
e-Learning – services which are delivered, enabled or mediated by ICT for the purposes of delivering education, and the technology and services which help create, manage and deliver those activities.
e-Research – two definitions are often quoted: “…global collaboration in key research areas, and the next generation of infrastructure that will enable it” and “The invention and exploitation of advanced IT: to generate, curate and analyse research data; to develop and explore models and simulations; to enable dynamic distributed virtual organisations”. In the context of the ICT Strategic Plan e-Research also includes the more general support of research activities with ICT.
Enhanced Computing Environment (ECE) – a managed desktop environment which brings together standard applications, infrastructural services, and access to “enterprise” services provided by “Central ICT Providers” together with other specific applications as required by the “local” unit in which the ECE is deployed.
Enterprise service – a service available across “Oxford”.
Full Economic Costing – a development of the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) to provide a forecast of the full economic cost of undertaking a research project. All Higher Education Institutes within the UK are required to identify all direct and indirect costs for each research project, including space/estates charges, depreciation, an adequate recurring investment for infrastructure, equipment, consumables, travel and the cost of all staff working on the project (including Principal Investigators, technical and administrative staff).
Holistic view of ICT – a view of ICT across “Oxford” which encompasses the forms, use, and lifecycles of ICT within “Oxford”, from business systems to e-learning; high performance computing to mobile devices; social, administrative, and academic use; support and training, governance processes, and requirements gathering.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) – a term used to encompass all forms of computing systems, telecommunications and networks across “Oxford”.
ICT Governance – a structure of process and relationships to provide strategic direction, ensure objectives are achieved, risk managed appropriately, and resources used responsibly (the “Coordinated Decision-Making” structure serves this purpose in “Oxford”).
ICT Project – a project, run with a Project Board and using a project methodology, which is undertaken to develop a new or upgraded "ICT service".
ICT Service – the integration of ICT applications and support provided by a supplier to users on an ongoing basis and designed to meet a defined requirement. An ICT Service is often defined by a “Service-Level Description”.
ICT Strategy Programme (ICTS Programme) – the programme of events which has delivered the "ICT Strategy".
ICT Strategic Programme Report – a report which summarises the work carried out within the ICTS Programme (also referred to as the Formal Programme Record).
ICT Strategy – a strategy for future ICT development in "Oxford". The principles and processes underlying the ICT Strategy are documented in the ICT Strategic Plan.
Identity Management – the creation of flexible definitions for individuals and groups which authenticates users and allows different levels of authorisation depending on the service used.
Information architecture – the design, analysis, and organisation or modelling of information, with a particular emphasis on the interrelationships between data. A common aim is the development of more effective presentation and use of information, or the corresponding user interfaces.
Information strategy– a set of attitudes in which: any information that should be available for sharing is well defined and appropriately accessible (allowing for necessary safeguards); the quality of information is fit for its purpose (eg accuracy, currency, consistency, completeness; all staff know, and exercise, their responsibilities towards information; there is a mechanism by which priorities are clearly identified and then acted upon
Interoperability – the ability for organisations, and especially the systems under their control, to communicate with each other and make use of the information transferred. Technical interoperability refers to the technologies and data standards required in order to exchange and process information between systems. Semantic interoperability refers to a shared understanding of the meaning of the information exchanged. Organisational interoperability occurs when disparate units agree a common set of business goals and processes in order to facilitate the exchange of information.
Key performance indicators – agreed quantifiable measurements which reflect the critical success factors of an organisation, and enable improvement to be measured.
Local – within a unit in “Oxford”: a department, college, faculty or division.
Oxford – a collective description of the “collegiate University”, including divisions, colleges, central administration and academic services and University collections.
Service-Level Description (SLD) – A document which, for example, defines an “ICT service”, its availability, and the responsibilities of the supplier and user. SLDs are often used as a means of managing expectations.
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – a collection of loosely-coupled, distributed services which communicate and interoperate via agreed standards. The combination of a service and standards-based approach can result in a directory of reusable service components which together can be employed to enhance existing networked applications or build new applications. A SOA approach is frequently found in the development of “enterprise”portals which aggregate services provided by different service providers using uniform methods of discovery, access, use and presentation.
Shared service – where an “ICT service” is not limited to a particular unit, a shared service will be available to all or some of the ”local” units.
Subsidiarity, the principle of – as defined in the Corporate Plan, “the notion that decisions should be taken at the lowest level appropriate to the matter in hand. Thus, for example, deciding what to research is a matter for individuals and, where relevant, research groups. It becomes a matter for departments and faculties, divisions and the University as a whole only when support is required, most obviously through the allocation of resources. Subsidiarity applies equally to teaching and, of course, administration generally.” (Para. 14). In the context of ICT, subsidiarity equates to a devolved ICT structure, which offers users the very strong benefits of local flexibility and local support, while being part of an overall Oxford ICT environment which is coordinated and cost-effective. Establishing the optimum balance and developing a holistic approach to ICT for Oxford is at the very core of the ICT Strategic Plan.