Computer help desks located in remote corners of university campuses can sometimes seem many miles away from those with IT problems that need fixing.
For King’s College London, IT advisers are now indeed truly distant as the institution has moved its IT help desk out of Waterloo in the capital to Cornwall.
Students and staff reporting a computer problem will now speak to an operator based in a business park near Newquay. The Cornish centre will log issues and, when necessary, assign them to one of 150 King’s IT staff in central London.
Locating the service centre in Cornwall, where staff costs are lower than in London, has allowed King’s to invest in other elements of its IT provision, said Gareth Wright, director of IT services.
“Having a telephony centre in London does not make sense,” said Mr Wright, who is originally from Cornwall and now splits his working week between Newquay and London.
The move has allowed King’s to hire three more call-centre staff, raising the total to 25, and to take more on as full-time employees rather than temporary contractors, he said.
“It may seem unusual to our sector, but I’ve been involved in several relocations like this in the private sector over the years,” Mr Wright said.
New investment worth £132 million in Cornwall’s superfast broadband system and low-cost daily flights to the capital meant that the distance between the King’s sites, almost 300 miles, did not pose any great difficulties, he added.
Staff would be trained to the same level as before, with further skills development being delivered remotely, Mr Wright said.
“Staff have just finished a virtual learning course where previously they would have travelled to London, but instead they stayed in Cornwall with the instructor based in London.”
With the savings from the relocation, King’s can invest in more IT staff to provide hands-on help at its various campuses, including drop-in centres in its libraries, according to Mr Wright.
“It has also allowed us to free up space in London, and the pharmacology department is now working in the fantastic area we’ve vacated,” he said.