Pro Vice-Chancellor

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Systems Development)

University of Bradford, UK

August 2004 – July 2009 (5 years)



Professor Earnshaw led a broad range of 60 linked projects with a total budget of £11 million over 5 years which developed the University’s electronic information and communications capability and infrastructure. The objective was to enhance student learning opportunities, and increase electronic delivery for students and staff. This involved mobile computing, wireless networks, online administration, and online learner support to enable students to develop and enhance key skills.


The primary goals were to –

1. Enhance the student learning experience
2. Enable administrative requests to be made on-line and in real-time
3. Identify areas of concern by means of risk analysis and risk assessment procedures
4. Improve overall business efficiency and effectiveness



The University’s Corporate Strategy for 2004-2009 set out the mission and aims of the University. Central to the realisation of these aims was a framework which facilitated communication to enhance the student learning experience, extend the opportunities for research, innovation and knowledge transfer, and increase community networking with the city and regional partners.  It was important to be able to act more strategically and speedily in the challenging and increasingly competitive world of Higher Education.

The drivers for a smarter and more agile approach were therefore as follows-

  • The global challenge of borderless education
  • Increasing participation in some form of education, training, re-training, skills up date at a number of points in a career, which may take several different pathways during the course of a person’s lifetime
  • An increasing spectrum of students with different contexts and requirements – full-time, part-time, work-based, home-based, and community-based
  • Greater access by everyone to digital materials – libraries, web, networks of expertise
  • Greater provision of online services in the community – banking, travel, stores


The University planned to use a range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support a number of parallel developments to position itself optimally and strategically with respect to its customers, clients, and stakeholders.  It was important for the institution to demonstrate that when students started to pay increased fees that they were receiving additional benefits that were useful and quantifiable. These included –

  • A web enabled campus supported by mobile computing and wireless networking
  • Smart systems for learners, teachers, researchers, and administrators
  • Web services for students, staff, business and research partners
  • A Teaching and Learning Strategy that developed key skills, in particular to communicate effectively in the Information Age
  • Flexible learning supported by web-based learning (i.e. e-learning) materials as part of a blend of face-to-face and remote learning


The University of Bradford wished to position itself effectively and competitively in this domain.  This was achieved by a dynamic e-strategy that linked people, information, and communication, and harnesses the power and potential of digital information.  Central to this objective was the effective and efficient use of ICT with intelligent interfaces that enable and empower the human’s capacity to understand, create and communicate.


The distinctive features of Bradford’s e-strategy are that it provided a framework for –

  • Significant internal partnerships between Learning Support Services, Management Information Services, the University Administration, the e-learning strategy, and students – to provide added-value to each
  • Development of significant external partnerships with the city and region which ensured distribution of value to collaborators
  • Greater flexibility in provision of learning materials and support services so that students and staff in the city and the region could customise the blend of human and electronic interfaces to meet their needs and different modes of study or working, e.g. campus-based or off-campus-based, work-based or home-based, full-time or part-time, full service or partial service
  • Added value to families of home-based learners who could see the attractiveness of what was being offered and may themselves be encouraged to sign up for short courses and take advantage of the progression opportunities offered by the University and its partnerships.


“Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living” (Negroponte, 1995)

“Success will only come to those companies – large and small – who meet world class standards and can compete in the global market place” (Kanter, 1995)

“By 2047 almost all information will be in cyberspace… all information about physical objects, including humans, buildings, processes and organizations will be online” (Denning and Metcalfe, 1997) (and only 100 years on from the invention of the transistor in 1947)

“One Internet year is the equivalent of seven calendar years…” (Clark, 1999)

“The changes wrought by the computer are still in their infancy” (Denning, 2002)

“Developments in information technology over the past decade, and in particular the advent of the Internet and its associated technologies, are rapidly becoming embedded in all the activities of the University, transforming the majority of its processes, and opening up the possibilities for the greatly enhanced performance of its key tasks. With information – in all its variety of forms – at the core of the University’s business, it is crucial to the institution’s continuing success that it should harness the transforming power of technology to maintain its competitive advantage at the leading edge of world

scholarship”. (Carr, 2003, University of Oxford e-strategy, )



“Being Digital”, N. Negroponte, Hodder and Stoughton, pp 243, ISBN 0-340-64525-3, 1995

“World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy”, R. M. Kantor, Simon and Schuster, pp416, ISBN 0-684-81129-4, 1995

“Beyond Calculation: the Next 50 Years of Computing”, P. J. Denning and R. M. Metcalfe (Eds), Springer Verlag, pp 313, ISBN 0-387-94932-1, 1997

“Netscape Time: the Making of the Billion Dollar Start-up that took on Microsoft”, J. Clark, pp276, ISBN 0-312-19934-1, 1999

“The Invisible Future: the Seamless Integration of Technology into Everyday Life”, P. J. Denning (Ed), McGraw-Hill, pp 348, ISBN 0-07-138224-0, 2002