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Information Technology Policy

Please note that this policy has not yet been revised or converted to the new format .

1.  Preamble

The Review of Telecommunications and Computing Infrastructure (September 1996) had as one of its roles "to comment on the adequacy and effectiveness of the [physical] infrastructure for telecommunications and computing". The absence of a corporate IT strategy and the fact that there was no related funding process were seen as major deficiencies.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the recently completed Leading the Way: The Monash Plan 1999 - 2003, which makes consistent reference to the critical importance of information technology to the University’s future. Information technology has a direct connection to the University’s mission, and to its quest for excellence in teaching and learning, research and community service, as well as with those services and functions which are instrumental to the attainment of its mission, such as libraries, teaching services and administration. Both the internal and external information technology infrastructure are of critical importance.

Monash’s continued commitment to world’s best practice in teaching, research and management requires it to have an information technology infrastructure to match, and a systematic approach to the issue of obsolescence.

2.  Purpose

This policy aims to identify those IT services that are best incorporated within the University’s centrally funded IT infrastructure; define a governance and management structure for the development and implementation of IT policies, strategies and services; and define the role of the Division of Information Technology Services.

3.  Responsible Officer

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development).

4.  Approving Body

Academic Board.

5.  Information Technology Policy

5.1  Definition, and the scope of this policy

"Information technology" is a term which can cover a range of chattels and activities. However, in the context of this policy, it has been assumed that information technology has two main components, an infrastructure component, identified in section 5.2.1 which is best administered and funded centrally, and a devolved component which needs to be administered and funded through faculties, academic departments, academic support areas, and the central administration. It is further assumed that future funding will follow this division.

In an institution such as Monash, with devolved arrangements and responsibilities for IT budgets, support and development matters, it is important to define where the centrally funded "infrastructure" of information technology ends, in order to cast a central budget which is appropriate to the funding required for that infrastructure. It is unlikely that there will be agreement as to the appropriate level for funding the information technology infrastructure, except that it will be seen simultaneously as being too little to meet ideal infrastructure needs, and too large because it draws too much funding away from the University’s core activities of teaching, research and community service.

This policy relates specifically to the information technology "infrastructure" component, but it must be recognised that the policy has direct implications for the activities of the University’s faculties, departments, academic support areas and administration.

Furthermore, as information technology is such a rapidly developing area, having direct impact on all aspects of university activities, it should be taken as "given" that the University’s policies in this area must be ensured by a process which permits regular University-wide scrutiny and comment, and a formal review of policy and its implementation should occur at least every two years. Regular review is critical to ensure that changes in the internal and external environment are met, and to enable the university to meet its business objectives. The review process, acceptance of its recommendations and resource adjustments required for their implementation will be executed swiftly to ensure that agreed changes will be realised in a timely manner.

In a devolved environment, it is important that faculties and departments continue to be the final arbiters of the hardware and software needs to meet their specific objectives within the overall context of the core standards. For example, the University’s Desktop Information Technology Strategy (DITS) and the IT Leasing Strategy have been important in ensuring that different sections of the university continue to be able to communicate with each other, by the adoption of common standards. Systems that place at risk the reliable operation of IT infrastructure, or that fail to satisfy university standards may be disconnected from the communication and network services. It would not be efficient for central infrastructure support to be provided beyond the point of remote connection if a faculty, department or other area has not observed the university standard.

5.2  Information Technology Infrastructure

The specific "infrastructure" which is the province of the policy at this time is intended to support the operational business of the university. At some future time there may be a requirement for other dedicated infrastructure to be established for experimental or research purposes.

The effective conduct of the university’s business relies upon information technology services that in turn draw upon information technology in concert with other ancillary supportive services. The scope of IT infrastructure, defined according to the specific IT services, depends upon tangible assets including hardware, software, communications and network fabric; upon support functions including Service Desk; upon appropriate training that ensures competency in the use and support of information technology; upon appropriate access to relevant and helpful information; and upon budget processes and policies that are matched to realistic expectations.

5.2.1  Information technology core services

All client information technology services, reliant on voice, video and data in whatever ways, connect into the communications and network fabric. It is convenient to establish the notional boundary between IT infrastructure and local information technology as being the wall outlet although other related university-wide services, such as an integrated library system or central administrative applications, also pass across the IT infrastructure boundary. For existing IT services Attachment 1 indicates the distribution of responsibilities (including financial) between the IT infrastructure group and the local (faculty) IT groups. The composition of the set of formal IT services will be reviewed periodically as technological options and the university’s requirements change. As with other administrative services, consideration will be given to adopting a user-pays cost recovery principle to sustain and upgrade core services, where this is consistent with the delivery of efficient and effective IT services.

Where a local entity cannot justify having local technical staff to carry out the entity’s support and Service Desk responsibilities, and if sufficient demand exists, the Division of IT Services may agree to perform the responsibility for a fee through a support agreement.

5.2.2  Ancillary services in support of core IT services

Effective use of the university’s information technology services requires the provision of assistance to clients using the services, and for the staff who conduct the technical support of local IT resources. Responsibility for the provision of assistance to clients is distributed between Central IT and local IT entities, (see Attachment 2). It is the responsibility of local entities to ensure their staff are able to use IT services proficiently and that their technical staff are appropriately trained and authorised by the Division of IT Services for their conduct of technical support.

5.3  Information Technology Devolution

Implicit in what is written above, and in comments on management and funding (below) is the fact that much of what constitutes "information technology" remains the responsibility of the local entities that are the faculties, departments, academic support areas and the administration. Most aspects of end-user delivery remain the responsibility of these areas, but they can expect the central provision of all the functions relating to infrastructure.

The notion of the wall outlet defining the boundary of responsibilities between IT infrastructure and the IT activities of local entities implicitly vests with the Division of IT Services, and ultimately the Deputy Vice-Chancellor VC- R&D (Research and Development), the authority to grant or deny access to, or use of, university IT infrastructure. In order to protect the University from legal liability, local entities may neither negotiate nor grant third parties access to university IT infrastructure, especially the communications and network infrastructure.

Where local entities develop or modify local IT applications that create information for storage in official University (infrastructure) systems, or that extract information from them, their use of the official systems in these ways will be granted subject to:

  • their adherence to standards and policies applicable to the official University systems affected;
  • their participation in formal planning sessions having agreed outcomes such that the impact of their use on capacity and other factors can be anticipated with sufficient time to accommodate the changing circumstances.

Where several local entities use the same locally developed IT applications that interact with official university systems, the Division of IT Services may agree, within guidelines set by the IT Advisory Committee and should resources be available, to incorporate in the official systems functionality supporting or facilitating the local developments, or to reduce the need for local support of the common features.

The fact that "devolution" has been defined in this way does not imply that central support will not be available for initiating special information technology development projects, which, although within the defined responsibility of faculties/divisions are seen to be of general university benefit.

6.  Structures for Policy Implementation

6.1  Responsibility for and Management of Information Technology

The responsibility for, and management of information technology is 4-tiered:

  • Overall responsibility for strategic leadership of the University’s Information Technology, advocacy, external positioning, policy, and its implementation rests with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development) who will advise the Vice-Chancellor’s Group.
  • The University Information Technology Advisory Committee will inter alia assist in the definition of University-wide IT policies, and advise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development) on such matters.
  • Those matters constituting the infrastructure of the University’s Information Technology will be the responsibility of the Executive Director of Information Technology Services, who heads the Information Technology Services Division.
  • Those matters beyond the infrastructure outlined in this document remain with the University’s faculties, departments, academic support areas and the administration.

6.2  University Information Technology Advisory Committee (UNITAC)

6.2.1  Membership of UNITAC

The Committee is not intended to directly represent units of the University. Rather it is intended to be composed of knowledgeable people willing to contribute significant insights and to actively participate in high-level policy formulation. The Committee will comprise 8 to 10 members with a wide understanding of the business of the university, and of information technology issues. Its membership will evolve according to university needs and sources of specific expertise. Its ex officio members will be the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (R&D) as Chair, and the Executive Director of IT Services.

The Committee’s membership will include persons having expertise in specific areas of strategic importance from within the University supplemented where necessary with prominent professionals co-opted from the information industry external to the University.

UNITAC will be supported by the advice received from a number of user and specific area advisory groups, for example: Committee of Associate Deans (Teaching); Committee of Associate Deans (Research); the Intellectual Property Committee; a privacy and security working group; Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED); administration systems user groups; student users’ groups; faculty management Committees; ad hoc teaching and learning groups such as the Higher Education Partnerships in Communications and Information Technology (HEPCIT); the Technical Working Party group; the Education Committee; and the Distance Education and Open Learning Committee.

From time to time, working parties may be established to address specific issues of importance.

6.2.2  Functions of UNITAC

  • to advise (through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor) the Vice-Chancellor’s Group and Academic Board on major policy issues relating to information technology;
  • to advise the corporate planning process on strategic planning issues relating to information technology within the University;
  • to oversee developments within the University’s devolved information technology environment;
  • to set guidelines and to review component information technology plans from the faculties and the administration, and to provide advice on information technology management structures in budgetary groups; and
  • to advise on the budget provided for information technology infrastructure.

6.3  The Division of IT Services

6.3.1  Mission of the Division of IT Services

The Mission of the Division of IT Services is to provide quality information technology services for all activities within its purview, and to provide innovative assistance and leadership in IT matters to all parts of the University in the achievement of their goals and objectives.

The Division of IT Services will address its Mission via:

  • wide consultation with its clients;
  • the development and realisation of information technology policies, procedures and standards;
  • the promotion of appropriate access to, and use of, information technology facilities for all members of the University community, in accordance with the University’s policies including those concerned with the confidentiality of data;
  • a customer oriented concentration on client service;
  • the adoption of quality practices in all of its operational activities; and
  • the development of service level policies which include specifics of service availability, integrity, security and performance.

6.3.2  Goals & Objectives of the Information Technology Services Division

The focus of the Information Technology Services Division will be to:

  • provide, support and manage the University Information Technology infrastructure according with agreed principles;
  • provide, support and manage information technology infrastructure services; and
  • develop detailed proposals for policy, procedures and guidelines relating to information technology.

6.3.3  Coverage

Division of IT Services will cover activities previously undertaken by several other groups within the University. Some of these are discretely identifiable existing units of the University; others are portions of existing units:

  • The Computer Centre;
  • AMIS;
  • The telephone and PABX group of the Facilities & Services Division;

6.3.3  Funding

The funding of the information technology infrastructure will be centralised, and conducted through the Division of IT Services. This funding will cover equipment purchases, non-salary recurrent costs such as rollover charges, equipment maintenance, software licences, communications service charges for all IT infrastructure, plus the salary and operating budget required for the division. The actual level of funding appears as a line item in the University’s annual budget. Recurrent funding will be adjusted as the inventory of equipment changes.

Information technology-related expenditure by faculties will be built into the formula for the devolution of funds to faculties, in a manner agreed through the budget process. Information technology-related expenditure by central administration will also continue to be part of the allocation it already receives as part of the University’s formula for the distribution of funding. In addition to the infrastructure budget mentioned above, there will be an "Information Technology" research and development sum, which will be administered by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development). This sum will be available as seed funding for matters relating directly to information technology.

7.  Amendment History

 

Date

Name

Description

First Issued

12 March 1999

Alan McMeekin Submitted to UNITAC for approval
Amended

15 March 1999

Alan McMeekin Modified as requested by UNITAC
Attachment 1. Responsibilities of the Division of IT Services and Local IT entities.

IT Service

IT infrastructure

Local IT entities

Data networks, which include domains within each campus, between campuses and other sites, between the University and home, between the University and other Australian universities, and to other sites nationally and internationally
  • Provision of standard facilities up to the "wall outlet"
  • Additional services, whether in function, capacity or quantity, provided on a user-pays basis.
  • Computing systems required to operate the network services.
  • Essential local network activities, e.g. recording Ethernet address information via ADDHOST
  • Patch cabling to computers and printers
  • Network interface cards
Telephone systems and telecommunications
  • Telephone services up to the "wall outlet", for a fee
  • PABX functions
  • Communications carrier services
  • Telephone directory & TIMS system
  • Telephone equipment and cabling for offices

 

Desktop services
  • Servers supporting the desktop environment
  • The agreed set of software
  • Provision of standard facilities up to the "wall outlet"
  • Client IT equipment including computers, printers, and future approved devices to agreed standards
  • Locally selected non standard software
  • Additional services, whether in function, capacity or quantity, provided on a user-pays basis (e.g. storage capacity)
Electronic messaging systems (including efficient and secure electronic mail)
  • Central resources for secure electronic mail with integrated directory services, meeting scheduling, list services
  • Workgroup support systems
  • Specific agreed central Workgroup applications
  • Workgroup applications developed specifically for the local environment
Information integrity services
  • University electronic data archive, storage and maintenance for defined information
  • Business continuity plans and facilities
  • Integrity of locally held information
  • Adherence to the aspects of the business continuity plan that relates to local entities
Video conferencing
  • Specification, selection, provision of the central video conference equipment
  • Specification, selection, definition of standards and policies for desktop video facilities
  • Central video-on-demand server equipment
  • Desktop video client equipment to agreed standards
  • Local video-on-demand server equipment to agreed standards

Within CeLTS:

  • Operation of the central video conference centres
Tele-teaching
  • Specification, selection, provision of the central tele-teaching equipment
  • Specification of standards and policies for tele-teaching equipment
  • Local tele-teaching facilities

Within CeLTS:

  • Operational support of tele-teaching within lecture theatres
  • Specification and support of A/V resources in lecture theatres
Attachment 1 continued. Responsibilities of the Division of IT Services and Local IT entities.

IT Service

IT infrastructure

Local IT entities

Faculty computing laboratories
  • Servers supporting the common student environment
  • The agreed application software for the common student environment
  • The network connection to wall outlet, for a fee.
  • Client (laboratory) equipment to agreed standards
  • Faculty-specific software
General purpose non-bookable computing laboratories
  • Servers supporting the common student environment
  • The agreed application software for the common student environment
  • The network connection to wall outlet.
  • Client (laboratory) equipment
 
High performance computing facilities
  • Central HPC facilities
  • Negotiate arrangements with national, and possibly international, HPC sites if directed by IT Advisory Committee
  • Client Visualisation facilities
  • Application software and codes for localised research purposes
  • Client IT equipment and research equipment for faculty-specific research
Library systems
  • Facilities manage agreed suitable equipment, operating system, and technical support for the Library’s purposes
Within the Library
  • The library application software
  • Client equipment resident in libraries for access to library facilities
Central systems for administrative and academic support
  • Facilities manage agreed suitable equipment, operating systems, and technical support for these purposes
  • Provision and operation of agreed University-wide applications and facilities
Within specific areas e.g. faculties, CeLTS, or the General Manager’s area:
  • Specification, testing, acceptance, and selection of administrative applications
Internet, intranet and Web services
  • Intranet/portal application systems
  • Central Web servers and University Web Proxy servers
  • Search engines and other equipment as necessary
  • Any Web servers managed by the local entity
Web Master
  • Overall policy and standards for Web content and style
  • Responsibility for specific Web pages
  • Advising and assisting the Web Masters’ group
  • Content of local Web pages
  • Adherence to university Web policies and standards
  • Authorisation of official Web pages
Attachment 2. The ancillary service responsibilities of the Division of IT Services and Local IT entities.  
Ancillary IT Service Central IT responsibilities Local IT responsibilities
Support and Service Desk functions
  • For all IT infrastructure and core IT services up to "the wall outlet"
  • Second level support to local IT Service Desk and support staff.
  • For all interaction with, and first level support of students.
  • Support of all local IT equipment and software
Training
  • Consult with PDT & CHED for the provision of training for staff and students
  • Define accreditation requirements for technical support staff.
  • Arrange provision of appropriate training for local technical support staff
  • Responsible for the ongoing accreditation of local IT support and Service Desk staff
  • Responsible for all their staff being proficient in their use of IT services.
  • Responsible for students being proficient users of IT
Information services
  • Widely publish information for all IT core services
  • Information published relevant to all local IT developments
Information technology standards
  • Through the IT Advisory Committee, develop university standards for endorsement
Adhere to university standards
Information technology policies
  • Through the IT Advisory Committee, develop university policies for endorsement
Adhere to university policies
University endorsed software
  • Negotiate software licences, prices and central funding for software deemed by the IT Advisory Committee of widespread significance
  • Negotiate software licences and prices for software deemed by the IT Advisory Committee of general interest, but requiring financing from local entities
Where feasible, use software covered by university site licences rather than alternative products

Last updated: 22 March 1999
Authorised by: Alan McMeekin, Executive Director, Information Technology Services
Maintained by:
ITS Documentation

Policy Information

Title of Policy

Information Technology Policy

Policy Reference

itec01

Central Registry File No.

 

Approval Process

Authorising Person

UNITAC

Academic Board
 

Meeting No.

  Meeting No.  
 

Meeting Date

12/03/99

Meeting Date  
 

Agenda Item

  Agenda Item  

Policy approved on

12/03/99

Policy effective on

 

Policy expires on

 

Policy next reviewed on

 

Related statutes

 

Related regulations

 

Comments

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