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University of Cumbria to Transform Higher Education Provision with Cisco

Cisco Technology to Help Increase Learning and Employment Opportunities in Cumbria

LONDON, February 26, 2008 - The University of Cumbria, which opened in August 2007, plans to transform the provision of higher education to residents of Cumbria using Cisco® technology. The university, other higher education institutions and businesses will set up a number of connected local learning centres, providing access to higher education resources and vocational learning. In a low-income and sparsely populated region, Cisco networking, security and data centre technology will help the university make learning resources more available and easier to access.

The university has a remit in the region like no other that has gone before it. The county of Cumbria is declining economically and talented and skilled residents are leaving the region. Cumbria is also suffering from a lack of inward investment. The university aims to tackle these issues and deliver benefits for industry and commerce by improving the skills base of the county's workforce.

The University of Cumbria is the result of a merger of St. Martins College, Cumbria Institute of the Arts, and the Cumbrian campuses of the University of Central Lancashire. It is also part of Cumbria Higher Learning, a distributed learning network of public and private organisations which work to increase higher education and vocational skills development in Cumbria.

"Up till now, access to higher education for many people in Cumbria has been limited. But with Cisco, we are transforming education in the region by creating a fast, secure and reliable infrastructure to bring a raft of learning resources to people where and when they need them," said Phil Molyneux, head of information and communications services at the University of Cumbria. "This will help widen participation in education and therefore employment opportunities, which were difficult to get or simply not available before."

The network is expected to improve learning by, for example, allowing healthcare students to share X-ray images more quickly between locations. Cisco data centre technology will help the university provide computing resources faster; deploying a departmental server, for example, should take hours rather than weeks. Cisco network security will help facilitate secure access to information resources so students can use their own laptops on the network and administrators will have central security management for remote locations.

Cisco will also help the university forge better international links. The university plans to exchange students with Shenzhen University and the Hong Kong Baptist University, and the presence of a high-speed and secure network will help deliver better access to and exchange of learning resources between China and Cumbria.

More than 2,500 computers linked via the Cisco network will provide access to resources such as a vast catalogue of journals, CDs and videos from the libraries of several institutions, e-learning facilities, and course-related information, as well as Web portals for managing services for learning and social interaction between students and lecturers.

The University of Cumbria is using Cisco Catalyst® 6500 Series Switches, Cisco Catalyst 3750 Series Switches and Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series Switches to create Cisco local area networks (LANs) at 15 sites around the region linked via the Cumbria and North Lancashire metropolitan area network. Cisco network security technology includes the Cisco NAC Appliance and the Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response System (CS-MARS). Cisco 4404 Wireless LAN Controllers are also being used to create wireless connectivity at selected campus locations. Two data centres, 68 miles apart in Carlisle and Lancaster, will use Cisco MDS 9100 Series Multilayer Fabric Switches supporting more than 32 terabytes of data. The Cisco solution is being deployed at the University of Cumbria by Alfred McAlpine and Logicalis, Cisco Gold Certified Partners.

"Access to education for all and raising skill levels is a major challenge facing governments around the world," said Scot Gardner, director of public sector for Cisco UK & Ireland. "By working with Cisco, the University of Cumbria will introduce new tools which will not only improve teaching and learning, but hopefully help transform the education process so the opportunity to learn can be provided to a greater number of students."

About the University of Cumbria

  • The University will work with economic development officers within the county to identify skills shortages and educational requirements, thereby allowing curriculum development planning to target these areas.
  • The University plans to create a subsidiary company to provide training and consultancy services to business and enterprise. The University has a large base of knowledge and an extensive network of accredited associates, who can be harnessed to provide enormous benefit to enterprises within Cumbria.
  • Over £190million investment in the operational infrastructure of the university will have benefits for the wider business community.
  • Businesses will have access to a workforce equipped with the skills demanded by the county.
  • Cumbria will become a more attractive place for businesses to relocate

Cumbria Higher Learning, the Distributed Learning Network for Cumbria, aims to enhance the ability of individuals and businesses in Cumbria to develop a knowledge based economy, through the development of a collaborative network of providers offering county wide guaranteed progression routes into higher education, for all learners.

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