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It’s all about Community
One of the hallmarks of the HEUG is its support for communities, both formal and informal. The formal communities have mostly been organized around the PAGs/TAG or around specific Working Groups. Informal communities can form spontaneously at conferences or grow out of conversations about specific topics on the HEUG Online Forums. The common theme is that these communities provide excellent opportunities for communication and collaboration.
Among the communities that have begun playing a more significant role in the HEUG over the past few years, and that are becoming more formalized, are those organized around specific geographic regions outside of the United States. The HEUG recognizes the need to support such communities, who face many of the same challenges as US institutions, as well as some additional issues posed by differences in functional requirements, culture, language, time zones, etc.
Although currently the majority of HEUG members are based in the US, the HEUG mission is to provide and support education, advocacy, communication, and collaboration to all higher education institutions worldwide running Oracle application software. Historically, Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) and the Netherlands were the first regions outside the US in which PeopleSoft applications (primarily Campus Solutions) were widely used. In recent years, however, the usage of Oracle application software in non-US institutions has grown substantially. Not only has the use of Campus Solutions and other PeopleSoft software been expanding to areas such as the UK, South Africa, Pakistan, China, and Latin America, but the usage of Oracle E-Business Suite applications for Finance and Human Resources is actually more prevalent outside the US than within it.
Accordingly, we have seen an increase in the number of non-US-based institution members. For many of these schools, HEUG Online is an invaluable resource, collapsing geographical and time zone differences so that a global community of some 18,000 people are able to share knowledge and experience. Naturally, institutions are particularly interested in the experiences and perspectives of their nearest neighbors, and this has led to an interest in establishing more formal, geographically-based communities within the HEUG.
The most formalized such community at this point is the Australia/New Zealand HEUG Community, which has established its own charter and organizational structure. That organizational structure includes a chair, executive committee, and several PAG-like groups focused on the use of specific Oracle products in the ANZ region. With the support and sponsorship of the full HEUG, this community has established a conference known as “Alliance Down Under,” which first launched in 2007.
A similar community, the Dutch Education User Group (DEUG), has been formed in the Netherlands. This community is slightly less formalized than its ANZ counterpart, but has been running its own user conference for several years. Work is under way to establish a more formal EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) HEUG Community. In addition to the Netherlands, countries in that region with significant higher education usage of Oracle application software include the UK, France, Belgium, and South Africa.
The other region outside the US in which there has historically been heavy usage of higher eduation Oracle application software is Canada. Though Canadian higher education is quite similar in many respects to the US, there are also significant differences.
During 2009, the HEUG Standing Orders were revised to provide for the allocation of one designated seat on the HEUG Board for each of those three major regions outside the US in which the HEUG currently has a significant presence: ANZ, EMEA, and Canada.
As sales and implementation of Oracle application software continue to expand into new geographical regions, interest in the HEUG continues to grow accordingly. Among these areas are Pakistan, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, China, and Latin America. Growth in these areas will bring new challenges to the HEUG.
The HEUG is poised to make the necessary changes in order to ensure that the greater global voice is heard through all communication channels. There will be language issues to address in regions where English may not be the first language and where even the character sets used may be different. The challenge of scheduling conference calls and webinars across multiple time zones will increase. However, the fundamental truth will remain, that the global community of higher education institutions using Oracle software all share the mission of recruiting, admitting, teaching, examining, billing, supporting, and graduating students...so there is much that ties the community together.
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