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UAE higher education IT heads form CIO Council

Group will provide forum for best practices for IT heads in higher education in the UAE

The group will gain a number of benefits through collaboration, says McKenzie.
The group will gain a number of benefits through collaboration, says McKenzie.

IT heads in the higher education sector in the UAE have recently joined together to create the CIO Executive Council of Higher Education Institutions UAE.

The group will aim to encourage collaboration between its members, and to co-ordinate group efforts on issues that affect their sector of the industry.

The first meeting of the group was held this month, with representatives of 15 higher education establishments from the public and private sector attending. The three founding members of the group, Ian McKenzie, head of IT, Emirates College for Advanced Education, Yousif Asfour, CIO New York University Abu Dhabi and Muhammad Javeed, Head of IT- Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, led the meeting to establish the scope of the group.

"The purpose of the first meeting was decide the purpose of the group, we looked at what role the group would have, the idea behind it being that as a group we are stronger than our individual parts," said McKenzie. "The feedback [from the meeting] is that it would be of mutual benefit to everyone, we have common issues, and rather than tackling them alone, we can learn from each other and save time.

The council will remain exclusive to the higher education sector, as the issues it faces are different from those in the primary and secondary education sector, and will operate just in the UAE, to allow the group to maintain regular face-to-face contact. The group will look to building links with other IT groups in the higher education sector internationally, both for guidance on how the group is run, and common issues.

McKenzie said that there were several areas identified by the group as possible areas of collaboration.

"One of the issues was working with vendors, as a group, we can work with vendors more effectively than we could as individual organisations, both in terms of a group that can exert influence in the vendor's space, and also in terms of the price point in terms of negotiating licences.

"Some of the biggest challenges are developing policies and procedures within an organisation, within the context of the UAE and the social and cultural environment. We are all writing policies, so we could compare them and make sure the policies and procedures that we write are strengthened by group collaboration," McKenzie added.