University’s Business Process Review sets alarm bells ringing

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A potential collaboration between Lancaster and Liverpool grabbed the headlines last term and as a new year begins, the stories aren’t going anywhere fast. With a brand new paper finally released attempting to summarise the next steps for collaboration, it appears to be just the beginning of a partnership.

Whilst University Management and Council deliberate over the aforementioned paper, there is a new process that will undoubtedly rival ‘LLU’ for column space in this term’s newspapers. The Business Process Review, overseen by Andrew Neal (Chief Operating Officer), has been established to identify areas of administration that are not currently running as efficiently and effectively as they could. The University also want to eliminate unnecessary duplication and clarify administrative roles and responsibilities.

Various University meetings and a presentation to LUSU Council have set alarm bells ringing. There is no doubt that this process has an aim to save money within departmental administration. This can be glossed over with terms such as ‘efficiency’, ‘effectiveness’ and ‘consistency’, all of which students would want to see, but not at the cost of personal, human interactions.

If students have a real problem with their department, they don’t want to read about solutions on a generic FAQ list on a website. One can only speculate as to how farthey will go with technology replacements. Will students suddenly find themselves chatting to an automated computerised chat programme? Or perhaps even worse, speaking to a student member of a staff in a call centre, who has no expertise knowledge in the department the complainant is ringing about?

Then there is submission online and detailed marking and assessment through an online format. Fair enough if the University had a proven track record with their online systems, but LUVLE is about as reliable as a chocolate fireguard. No-one wants to spend weeks on an essay to log in to an error-ridden website.

If the University seriously want to improve their systems, they need to stop spending money on consultancy firms and spend their money and time on talking to the people who use their services – the students. Only then will they be able to provide an effective, efficient and consistent service that is tailored to the students who use it.

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