About the Open Source University Alliance Initiative

About the Open Source University Alliance Initiative

What is the Open Source University Alliance?

The Open Source University Alliance Initiative is an initiative of the Erasmus without Paper project (EWP) that aims to let all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Europe face the challenges of the information society, in an efficient and qualitative way. By creating an open repository of source code and software, the higher education community will have full access to the necessary tools to meet the demands that they are posed with today. The core of the Open Source University Alliance will be composed by HEIs willing to lead by example with regards to sharing open source solutions developed by their respective teams.

For HEIs that are in the need of developing IT tools that can support the management of, for example, their student mobility, they are forced do it largely on their own. Either by developing something new from scratch or by updating the software they have previously developed themselves. This process is not only slow and inefficient, but also expensive. An alternative to working individually is for the higher education community to share the source code of their applications, eliminating redundancy. By doing so, the HEIs would both dramatically accelerate their ability to maintain state of the art systems and enhance the efficiency and cost management for their digital systems. The advantages would also extend beyond this, and promote real collaboration and exchange of expertise among IT teams, which in turn would lead to higher security and quality standards.

From 2019 to 2021, the vast majority of European HEIs will be looking to connect their student information systems (SIS) to the EWP Network. The single largest obstacle to enacting the change of paradigm EWP will bring about is the great commitment of resources by all HEIs that need to update their in-house-developed SIS. Indeed, the digital exchange of student data that comes with the EWP will in almost all cases require an overhaul of the original SIS. While considerable attention is being paid to making the connection to EWP as simple and straightforward as possible there could not be a better moment to create the conditions for HEIs to embrace two changes of paradigm at once and join the open source software movement.

With this in view, the EWP proposes a new deliverable consisting of a repository of open source code and software. Such a resource is meant to let any developer access a catalogue of modules developed by peers which can be adapted to the needs of their own HEI – and once again shared with the community. To render the repository useful it needs to have a critical mass of content at its launch, in December 2018, and guaranteeing this is the mission of the Open Source University Alliance.

Timeline of the initiative:

  • From 26 September 2017: The promotion of the Open Source University Alliance towards software developers and the invitation of HEIs to sign the pledge of support
  • November/December 2017: The first meeting of steering committee
  • December 2018: The launch of the open source repository

Who runs the initiative?

The Open Source University Alliance is an initiative created by the EWP project. The EWP project proposed is a response to the current needs of the information society, more specifically a large number of potential end-beneficiaries ranging from students, institutional Erasmus co-ordinators, higher education institutions at large, national agencies, or even the European Commission. The EWP network is the first attempt to standardize student data transfer on a European-wide scale. The establishment of the Open Source University Alliance is a vital step in the creation of this network.

In order to monitor the progress of the initiative, the EWP has set up a steering committee. The steering committee consists of a broad array of different partners, in order to fully cover the wide spectra of HEIs in Europe. By meeting on a regular basis, the steering committee will be able to plan the future developments of the initiative and how to maximise its impact.

But the foundation of the Open Source University Alliance is the individual HEIs that show their support for the initiative by donating code to the repository. It is their contributions that makes the Open Source University Alliance possible. It is therefore crucial that as many HEIs sign up and show support for the initiative as possible. By signing up, you will contribute to the creation of an open source of tools that will aid all the thousands of HEIs in Europe. Their contribution will then help your HEI efficiently realize any digital development necessary.

How can we sign up?

Signing up for the Open Source University Alliance is very easy. Under the Sign Up-tab above, you will find a form for showing your support for the Open Source University Alliance. This form is both a way for you to show your support for the initiative and a possibility for us to easily communicate with you.

For the form, we would kindly like to ask your institution to provide us with a contact person, who we can contact for the initiative and the repository. This is preferably someone from the IT-department, but can of course be somebody else. We would also like to know what types of source code or software you can be contributing with when the repository opens. This is so that we can know if we will be able to reach critical mass.