August 2020
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Sister Team – Corporate Systems

The Academic Systems Team is one of two teams dedicated to the support and development of business systems (or management information systems, in old speak).  Our sister team is Corporate Systems and they too are located on level 9 of the Laver Building, albeit in and around room 919.

Headed by Paul Lightowlers, the 14 strong team delivers technical expertise across the following key business areas/systems:

  • Finance (Aptos, Parabilis)
  • IT Helpdesk (Supportworks)
  • Planning (Cognos)
  • Research (Symplectic, ERIC (institutional repository), PAC)
  • HR & Payroll (Midland Trent)
  • eCommerce (WPM)
  • Facilities Management (Planon)

The Corporate Systems Team is commonly seen as dealing with staff data and systems, whilst the Academic Systems Team, conversely, deals with student data and systems.  That said, the two teams work closely, as there are levels of inter-dependency between our various systems and services.

Needless to say, given the systems for which they are responsible, the Corporate Systems Team liaise with Finance Services, Human Resources, Research & Knowledge Transfer, Campus Services and Strategic Planning and Change, to name but a few.

The work of the two business systems teams is, however, dependent on the efforts of several other teams within Exeter IT.  In later blog posts I will introduce those teams, to help build an understanding of how Exeter IT delivers its services to all its users.

New look for the student timetable

It’s long been an ambition to improve on the look and functionality of the web presentation of the student timetable.  We currently use Syllabus Plus, the timetabling software  from Scientia. Whilst there have been many improvements in the underlying system, our presentation of personalised timetables, implemented in Exeter for many years now, has remained unchanged – until now!

I’m pleased to report that we have rolled out MyTimetable, a front-end for timetabling solutions from a Dutch company called Eveoh.  The product is used extensively in Holland but Exeter is the first such implementation in the UK.  MyTimetable shows up-to-date schedules in a graphical presentation, and allows the export of schedules to printable PDF documents.  Furthermore, users can subscribe to an iCal feed of their schedule, for integration into Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook or use on a mobile phone.

We have already received some positive feedback from students about the new timetable, both via email and Twitter, and look forward to hearing more about what the users think. We will also continue working with Eveoh to develop our implementation further and I hope to provide more details about that in a future blog post.

For now, enjoy the new look via the timetable tab in the MyExeter portal, or direct via (login required).  Alternatively, select the image below for a screenshot. We welcome feedback, so do let us know what you think.


The Team(s)

Following the introductory post, it’s worth taking a quick look at the Academic Systems Team itself, and the various areas of responsibility. To start, the team is divided into two sub-teams:

Student Record Systems

Team Leader: Tom Waite

This team is responsible for the support and development of SITS, the student record system, and ESD, the student helpdesk – two large systems. SITS is used extensively, both for administrative and student functions, covering admissions, registry, module selection, student finance, assessment, graduation and statutory reporting, to name but a few. ESD (Enterprise Service Desk) allows students to log a helpdesk call for assistance or information from a wide range of student services and forms a key element of the new Student Information Desk (SID), to be launched when the Forum opens in May.

Learning and Teaching Systems

Team Leader: Tim Hortopp

In essence, this team is responsible for everything else! However, that does mean a greater number of smaller, but no less important, systems, across the broad area of teaching and learning. This entails the support and development of timetabling and room booking systems, the examination papers archive, Echo 360 (lecture capture), the library catalogue and associated services, ELE (virtual learning environment), CareerHub and the Exeter Award, BART (assignment submission), and many more. The team is also involved in the implementation of several new services being planned for the coming months.

As a whole…

Whilst the broader Academic Systems Team (currently 17 strong) is split into two, it works effectively as a broader group, with excellent co-operation across all the systems and services. Indeed, the data feeds from SITS inform a significant number of the other systems, so there are various levels of inter-dependency.

The team resides in, or near, room 911 (9th floor) of the Laver Building on the Streatham Campus.

Various new, and exciting, systems and services are currently being worked on by the team, and I look forward to talking more about those developments in future posts. One thing is certain – life in Academic Systems is never dull!

Who, what, and why? An introduction

Welcome to the new Academic Systems blog at the University of Exeter! By way of an introduction, this first post will provide some background information, explain the rationale behind this new venture and outline plans for the coming posts.


This blog is about the work of the Academic Systems Team at the University of Exeter, and me, its head (and blog writer).  Part of the Exeter IT Division, within Academic Services, we work closely with other colleagues and teams to deliver a wide range of systems and services to the University community – and beyond.


The Academic Systems Team is responsible for the support and development of the student-facing systems and services, and those systems that provide the administrative support for the student life cycle (some of which are included in the links to the left).  By necessity, therefore, we work closely with the other divisions within Academic Services, including:

  • Student Services
  • Library and Research Support
  • Employability and Graduate Development
  • Academic Policy and Standards
  • Education Enhancement
  • Academic Support Unit (Cornwall)

The team also works closely with other professional services (Finance, Planning, Change Team etc.) and the Colleges (faculties), to ensure that the services meet the requirements of the University and its various user communities.  We also work closely with our colleagues at University College Falmouth.

As the provision of any IT system is very much a team effort, through this blog the work of the other sections within Exeter IT will become evident too. For an overview take a look at the divisional structure. More on this in future posts.


twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhiteWhilst the work that we do is often reported via the more formal channels (committees, minutes, and so on), there is a need for a more accessible means by which we can report on, and discuss, a wider range of developments, issues, and ideas.  Some of this has been addressed by the new Exeter IT Newsletter and, indeed, the Exeter IT Twitter account.  However, it is also hoped that by writing a blog the role of the team, and the wider division, will become even more visible, and lead to further opportunities for engagement with those using the systems and services that we provide.

Following the recent arrival of Lynne Tucker, the new CIO (Chief Information Officer), there are various streams of activity around key themes being planned or, in some areas, already underway. Together with my team, I’m actively involved in some of this exciting work and plan to use this blog to discuss further – again, more on this soon!

To close…

Comments are enabled on this blog, so please do respond! Please do also follow me on Twitter – @UoEHeadAcadSys. I look forward to writing more posts and discussing the work that we are engaged in. Thanks for reading.

Ian Tilsed
Head of Academic Systems