What's New in IT Services – March 2024

A lot’s been happening behind the scenes in IT recently. Here are just a few of the latest developments.

Two people point at a laptop screen. Credit: Unsplash

Easter opening times 

The University, and the IT Service Desk, will be closed between Thursday 28 March and Tuesday 2 April 2024.    

All digital education systems will be monitored to ensure service provision during this period.  It will still be possible to log requests with the IT Service Desk, which will be looked at when the University reopens on Wednesday 3 April. 

You can visit the IT website for self-help, tips and information, to log that something is broken, or to request equipment or software, and you can also chat with Falco, IT’s 24/7 chatbot. We also have a basic out of hours phone service (0113 343 3333). This will be available 24/7 during the closure period. 

Staff Guides for our digital education systems are available at the Digital Education Systems Help website and Student Guides are also available on the Digital Education Systems Help website

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Easter shutdown  

If you’re working on campus, help us reduce the University’s energy use and carbon footprint during the Easter shutdown (28 March to 2 April inclusive) by turning off computers, photocopiers, empty fridges and other electrical equipment, where this can safely be done. Heating and ventilation in unoccupied buildings will also be significantly reduced during this period.   

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Changes to IT Executive Leadership 

David Baldwin joins us as our new Director of Digital Research from Wednesday 3 April.  

David comes to us with an impressive and diverse background in high-performance computing (HPC) and digital infrastructure, having served in senior IT leadership roles across the globe including the UK, Egypt, USA, Mexico, and Brazil.  

A huge thank you also goes out to Mark Conmy, Head of Research IT, who has been instrumental in supporting this critical area of work while the appointment process was underway. Mark's dedication and expertise have been invaluable to our team, and we wish him all the best in his new role as Head of Digital Policy in our Cyber Security team, which he will transition to through March and April. 

Finally, Dan Simms, Chief Information Officer, announced on Friday 8 March that he has decided to resign from his role as Chief Information Officer to pursue a role in the private sector. His last day with the team will be in early September.  

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Faculty aligned IT teams  

We are well underway with getting our new faculty aligned IT team in the Leeds University Business School (LUBS) up and running – a significant step forward in enhancing IT support within the faculty. 

Located in Lyddon Terrace, this team of IT professionals is dedicated to the IT needs of the Faculty and they will work closely with faculty leaders on key priorities, especially in teaching and research. 

To ensure that the team can focus on the right activities, all requests for IT support should continue to be logged through the IT website.  

Look out for further updates and information on additional faculty-aligned teams in the future.   


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Jadu update 

Last year we moved 18 of the University’s key Jadu Content Management System (CMS) websites from our campus-based servers to a new cloud-based version, which led to improved security and sustainability of the platform. 

Since then, we have continued to develop changes and work with Jadu to provide additional improvements and performance enhancements through regular deployments of new functionality and technical updates.   

Over the past few months, a number of incremental changes have been made to reduce timeouts and enhance performance. Working with our vendor, they recommended additional changes to support users around the University.   

These changes are now complete and were introduced with little to no significant downtime across various vital websites, including For Students, HR, the Library, various faculty and services sites, and the main Leeds.ac.uk site.   

We are now seeing the benefits with increased user connections and improved response times for both editors and visitors and will continue to monitor and make additional changes if necessary. 

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Monthly Microsoft 365 updates 

Microsoft 365 (or M365) is the whole suite of Microsoft products, covering things like Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint and many other apps. Microsoft are continually updating these and share their plans in the Microsoft Roadmap (but note, at the University we may not have access to all the products shown in the Roadmap).   

We’ve highlighted some of the recent changes elsewhere on the IT website.    

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Update | New Microsoft Teams   

We’ve started to roll out the new version of Teams on University managed devices, in preparation for Microsoft’s global rollout on 31 March. Find out more on the IT website and try it now. If you have any problems with the new version of Teams, try clearing your Teams cache before contacting the IT Service Desk.   

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New Microsoft Planner app in Microsoft Teams 

The new Microsoft Planner app in Teams will replace Tasks by Planner and To Do, bringing together the simplicity of To Do, the collaboration of Planner and the power of Project.  

All the existing functionality of To Do and Planner will be kept in the new app, in addition to new features and options to aid productivity.  

The new app will be available in Microsoft Teams starting late March 2024, followed by the web experience which will become available in late 2024.  

You can find out more through the Meet the New Microsoft Planner YouTube playlist

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Getting to grips with Copilot (web) 

Before you wade in on using the web version of Microsoft Copilot, don’t forget that there’s guidance on the use of Generative AI at Leeds on our dedicated website.   

When you're ready to take the plunge, the IT website has a short article that introduces you to the web version of Microsoft Copilot and outlines some of the things it can do.  

There's also a follow-up article with some general tips and things to consider when you start to use it. 

If you’re a member of staff, the Digital Education Enhancement SharePoint site also has some great resources on AI for Student Education, including some demo videos on how to use Copilot and create prompts. You’ll need to log in with your University credentials to view the site. 

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SAP annual patching 

The annual patching process for SAP also took place between Friday 15 and Sunday 17 March.  

As ever, this keeps SAP systems up to date, and makes sure they are in line with the legal changes required by HMRC for the new financial year. 

SAP received the latest set of support packs, and the production Oracle databases were patched to ensure that the application is secure, remains supported and keeps us up to date with current functionality for the version we are using. 

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Updating Campus Printers 

We’re working with our printer supplier to replace 146 outdated printers from our current fleet of 400 around campus. The new machines will be faster, more reliable, more energy efficient and the way you print will stay the same.  

We’ll switch each printer out one at a time to keep disruption to a minimum, with a full list of the printers we’ll be replacing available elsewhere on the IT website. We’ll be in touch with representatives of each of the areas where a printer will be replaced, so please look out for further details soon.    

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Big Data and AI World 

Monica Jones, our Chief Data Officer, took part in the Big Data and AI World event at ExCeL London on 6-7 March, which was part of the huge annual Tech Show London (consisting of five events in one). She chaired a session on ‘Data Literacy in Practice: Real World Strategies and Success Stories’, featuring a panel included a range of data professionals.  

Monica said, “this is a subject close to my heart and we had a brilliant panel discussion on the subject with lots of good questions from the capacity strength audience”.   

Data literacy refers to the ability to understand, interpret and effectively communicate using data. It is the cornerstone of informed decision-making in today's data-driven world.  

The panel of experts shared their first-hand experiences and success stories in fostering data literacy within organisations, with the aim of gaining practical insights into building a data-fluent culture, equipping teams with essential data skills, and unlocking the potential of data assets.  

The delegates had the opportunity to learn from real-world strategies that have empowered individuals and organisations to make smarter decisions and thrive in the digital age.

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Leeds Spring Careers Fair 

Various people from around the team attended the Spring Careers Festival on Thursday 16 March.  

Over 500 students attended, and the day provided a great opportunity to showcase IT Services as a place to work and develop talent.  

Huge thanks to our HR team, along with the volunteers who went along to chat with students on the day. 

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