Strategy of the Faculty of Information Technology

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1 Strategy of the Faculty of Information Technology Foreword The prior overall strategy of the Faculty of Information Technology was formulated in The new strategy clarifies the image of the Faculty, both externally and within the University of Jyväskylä. The objective of the strategy is to develop the Faculty as a unitary and versatile unit and as an active builder of information society. The aim is to define the competences available in the various sections and functions of the Faculty, as well as to define roles in relation to the University s overall strategy and profile. The Faculty will be analysed from four different viewpoints, identifying natural developmental paths and concrete directions for cooperation in the different areas of the Faculty. The Deans have led this strategy work, which was conducted both in workgroups and in an open online setting from December 2011 to May This document presents the most essential contents of the wide-ranging discussions and background material. The strategy will be supplemented with a more detailed operating and financial plan in August. The Faculty strategy is subordinate to the University strategy Excellence and Dynamism, University of Jyväskylä The Faculty strategy will be updated in 2014, based on need. 1

2 Situational analysis Information technology (IT) can be summarised as the development and utilisation of technology in order to process information for the needs of users. Due to the increasing diversity of the target area, development work is also becoming increasingly demanding: In the future, information (both data and knowledge) will be even more heterogeneous, dynamic, multi-dimensional, disjointed and, above all, more wideranging than today. The capability of technology to process information will be increasingly multiform, dynamic and dispersed across all of our operating environments. There will be an increasing number of technology users and user needs, as well as utilisation situations and environments, which will also be increasingly diverse (cognitively, socially, culturally, technologically, emotionally and pedagogically). The operating environment will be increasingly diverse, dynamic and competitive. Actors of different sizes, from global enterprises to ad hoc networks and individuals, operate in the same value chains and global environment. Along with the digitalisation of society, information technology has become a natural part of most young people s daily lives. The recruitment of talented and motivated students requires extra attention, particularly in technology-oriented education. At the national level, significant additional investments in education and research can be expected only upon structural changes associated with technological turning points, which simultaneously challenge educational and research activities at universities. The change in focus within the Finnish ICT industry (led by TIVIT / the Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation in the Field of ICT) from telecommunication technology to smart, content-based services also affects the emphasis of research activities. Information technology plays a significant role in the other Finnish Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOKs) as well. In the spring of 2012, the Faculty is directly involved in two of them: Forestcluster Ltd and FIMECC Ltd. The Faculty of Information Technology s major national competitors (universities in Tampere and the Helsinki region) have created efficient networks with each other and achieved a hegemonic position, together with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and its company networks. Access to these networks seems indispensable, both in order to maintain the current level of national research funding and to obtain new EU funding. The new strategy of one of the Faculty s major sources of funding (Tekes, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) emphasises high-potential entrepreneurship, which is difficult to reconcile with academic quality targets. In the activities of the University of Jyväskylä, developing information technology is visible at least on four levels: the daily operating environment, students motivation and expectations, the surrounding society, and doing science within the rapidly renewing field of IT, which has links to practically all disciplines. Traditionally, the Faculty has been actively involved in developing the University s IT environment, particularly through student projects. The change in students modes of study challenges all the University units 2

3 to renew their curricula and the Faculty to participate more in minor subject and methodological training. The digitalisation of society and research subjects, as well as the spread of computational research methods, requires increasingly systematic, multidisciplinary research cooperation, in which the Faculty of Information Technology plays an important role. The Faculty covers several aspects of IT and offers good physical and organisational starting points for multidisciplinary internal cooperation. In terms of teaching, cooperation is currently systematic, but research cooperation is still uncoordinated. As a whole, research activities are at a good level. The fields of study that achieved the highest scores in the University s research evaluation (scientific computing and cognitive science) are different, both from each other and from the rest of the Faculty in terms of their focus, research methods and student recruitment. The Faculty s project activities focus on applied research (Tekes) and societal/regional impact in cooperation with a strong company network. Funding for basic research (provided by the Academy of Finland) and for international research collaboration is not at the target level. Master s students easily find employment before graduation, which reduces their commitment to studies. Particularly in the natural sciences, postgraduate studies play a significant role in educational activities. Only a small number of Finnish business and administration students find research careers attractive. Summary: The Faculty of Information Technology plays a key role in developing one of the University s core fields, human technology. One of the Faculty s primary strengths is its ability to view IT broadly, integrating various perspectives and identifying the joint effects of different phenomena. This is combined with internationally recognised research in the strategic areas, as well as with active societal interaction. The external conditions for cooperation are optimal, both in terms of premises and administrative structures. The Faculty s success depends to a great extent on its internal ability to identify scientifically and socially relevant challenges, which can only be resolved through a joint effort of the various groups. The Faculty s mission Mission: The Faculty of Information Technology responds to the challenges in research and education brought by the development of information technology and digitalisation. The Faculty holistically integrates the perspectives of technology, information, organisations, business and people in its research and education as well as in its cooperation with interest groups. Vision: With its internationally recognised and distinctive profile, the Faculty of Information Technology will be Finland s most versatile unitary academic unit in the field of information technology. 3

4 The Faculty s profile The Faculty s objectives and activities are profiled through the following questions: How and for what purpose is IT used? How does IT produce value? How are IT products and services produced? How is information processed with the help of IT? How is IT utilised in research and in developing society? From the perspective of IT use, a core objective is to increase understanding of the needs of users and the ways in which technology can respond to these needs in a motivating, effective and safe manner. As regards education, the aim is to produce experts who will adapt the limited possibilities of technology to suit users goals and skills. Activities are closely associated with human technology, teaching in the future, multidisciplinary basic and applied research, and related postgraduate education in cooperation with various interest groups. From the perspective of the value production of IT, emphasis is placed on methods and action models that can be used to identify the needs of organisations and other communities, as well as to evaluate the overall economic and social impacts of solutions based on IT services and the value chains related to IT service production. Education aims at expertise in management within organisations that utilise and produce IT, as well as expertise in analysing the spread and societal impacts of technology. In addition to human technology, the University of Jyväskylä s core field of languages, culture, and social change processes (particularly digitalisation) is closely related to the social utilisation of IT. This perspective is especially found in bachelor s and master s education, applied research and postgraduate education. From the perspective of IT production, emphasis is placed on methods used to produce technological artefacts (hardware, software and services) systematically, reliably and efficiently in compliance with user needs for a heterogeneous and dynamic environment. In addition to strong programming skills, experts trained at the Faculty master the design of information systems and standards, for example, as well as the interaction skills needed for product design specification. This perspective is essential for human technology, which is part of the University s profile (IT-based services). Activities focus on degree education, applied research and postgraduate education, as well as on active cooperation with the regional ICT business network. The key objective from the perspective of information processing and production of new research data is the development of computational methods and software for increasingly complex information processing problems and increasingly versatile computing platforms in collaboration with specialists in the application areas. Future experts master the implementation, selection and application of demanding methods in different contexts. In terms of the University profile, this perspective is generic, although it emphasises partnership with the natural sciences and laboratory-based experimental research. Activities focus on basic and applied research, as well as on postgraduate education. 4

5 Objectives The Faculty of Information Technology contributes to the implementation of the University strategy, whose following objectives it has chosen and adapted as the most central for its own activities: Research and researcher training o Creating an innovative research environment by integrating the various perspectives of the Faculty in a goal-oriented manner o Structuring and regularising a partner network for each perspective and objective o Developing the quality of international recruitment in collaboration with the partner network o Creating a specific researcher career model for the Faculty of Information Technology, in which both academic and professional career goals are consciously considered o Improving financial structure (from applied research and regional development projects to basic research) Education o Recruiting and getting commitment of talented and motivated students to the Faculty o Renewing IT pedagogy and learning environments in order to take students individual prerequisites for learning into account o Strengthening contacts with business and industry in order to develop educational content, promote studying while working, and naturally integrate career planning with studies o Improving the profitability of the Faculty s educational activities Developing personnel policy and management in accordance with the Faculty s operating environment The key thematic objectives that incorporate the Faculty s different perspectives and functions are: The Faculty s internal development objectives o Enhancing the ability to create innovative IT products and services by matching the potential of technology with the identifiable needs of people and organisations o Creating competence in order to develop increasingly independent and intelligent IT services and products, as well as to offer them in business networks Objectives affecting university-level activities o Systematic utilisation of information technology in research at the University level (computational methods and the methodological and software development needed to support them; the role of the IT environment in research related to human and social activities) o The links between information technology and education (eeducation): cooperation with other units to further develop solutions that support education, in particular, in order to promote learning to an increasing degree 5

6 combining the technical potential of individual and organisational levels with research on individual and collaborative learning Objectives affecting the development of information society o Information security: security as a central aspect, particularly in the production, utilisation and use of IT services o Services: developing IT-based service structures (service networks, public services, egovernance, open data, and the regional ICT innovation cluster); the interaction of technology and humans in service processes Objectives related to Faculty organisation o The operative aim is to coordinate central Faculty functions more clearly. The following functions will be holistically developed in the Faculty: Research and project activities Researcher training Master s education Non-degree-granting education (the one-stop shop principle) o Support and administrative services have been centralised in the Faculty, except for student services and support provided to departmental management Implementation and evaluation A more detailed execution plan regarding the content of the strategy, including concrete objectives and indicators, will be prepared for the operating and financial plan during the autumn of The implementation of faculty- and department-level objectives is monitored by means of university-level indicators (the model of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Rector s feedback, and University Board Review materials) in the Faculty Council, as well as at staff and departmental meetings. Internal objectives related to education, including postgraduate education, are evaluated on an annual basis in February/March (curriculum review), the objectives related to human resources and finances in the spring (based on financial statements), and the objectives related to research in May/June (structure of the project portfolio and preparation for the autumn application processes). 6

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