Governance of information is becoming vital: Dr. Foster, Sheffield University Information School
For the less oriented, Information Management is the process of collecting and disseminating information through scientifically devised management strategies. A master of Information Management degree is, thus, a combination of disciplines like information systems, business administration, computer sciences and project management. “The basic foundations of information management concern the systematic acquisition, storage, retrieval, processing and use of data in support of decision-making and organizational goals,” says Dr. Jonathan Foster, Lecturer in Information Management, Information School, the University of Sheffield.
In this interview with Careers360, Dr. Jonathan Foster shares his insights on the emerging trends in the information management field and what the Sheffield Information School has on offer for international students.
Below is the edited interview:
Q. What is the strength of the international students’ community at the Information School of the University of Sheffield? What about Indian students?
A. Our strength rests in our diversity. Our current international population includes students from China, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Specifically with regards to India, our current Indian students also come from many different regions of India, including Chattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh. While this naturally brings cultural diversity, it also brings with it an awareness of different economic and political systems, technological applications and ways of doings things.
Q: Can you highlight some of the emerging trends in information management studies?
A. Some of the emerging trends in information management include the emergence of data as a source of value in its myriad forms, including the combination of different types of data, e.g. transaction data, social media data, Internet data and data from sensors and personal devices; this brings with it an increased emphasis not only on the structuring of data, but also on the flow of data and the analysis of data in real-time; the development of frameworks to extract and create value from data and associated issues, including data quality, data governance, interoperability of systems, data analytics and decision-making. Governance of information and data more generally is also becoming important, so as to enable organizations not only to extract and create value, but also to mitigate the risks that an increased emphasis on information and data brings.
Q: What makes your university stand apart from the pack in terms of information management?
A. The information management course at the Information School University of Sheffield is situated within the Faculty of Social Sciences. This means that while the basic foundations of information management concern the systematic acquisition, storage, retrieval, processing and use of data, information and knowledge, in support of decision-making, sense-making and organizational goals more generally; there is also an interest and concern in contextualizing this processes in relation to the broader conditions and consequences for individuals e.g. citizens, consumers, and patients and for society. The research-led nature of our teaching and the opportunity for students to undertake a practical piece of research via their dissertations are also key selling points.
Q. Is work experience necessary/preferred for the MSc Information Management course? How is it different from the Information Management (Professional Enhancement) degree?
A. It is not necessary to have work experience in order to apply for our courses; and successful students will always benefit not only from the content of the course, but also from the interactive way in which the content is taught via seminars, case studies, discussion, lab work, problem-solving etc. However, if applicants do have work experience this will undoubtedly be of benefit, by providing a practical context within which to apply the ideas taught and acquired on the course.
Q. Tell us about the specialisations offered in MSc Information Management?
A. We have a core curriculum consisting of Information and Knowledge Management, Information Governance and Ethics, Information Retrieval: Search Engines and Digital Libraries and Information Systems in Organizations; Information Systems Modeling and/or Designing Usable Websites. Students can then choose either to focus on learning more about the utilization of these frameworks and techniques within a specific area or domain, e.g. business intelligence, e-business and e-commerce, social media; or to continue developing their practical skills in information management through content management, database design, information systems project management and information systems change management.
Q. Are there any unique programs that you offer or plan to offer at the Information School?
A. The aim of our program is to provide a basic grounding in the fundamentals of information management i.e., the systematic acquisition, storage, retrieval, processing and use of data, information and knowledge in support of organizational goals. The unique of the program comes through the opportunity for the student to then tailor this basic grounding into a domain of application e.g. business, health, technology, education etc. A further unique strength of our program is the research-led nature of our teaching and the opportunity for students to undertake a practical piece of research in a wide range of areas, including the digital humanities; the digital economy; business, health, and not-for-profit organizations; digital society; and the development of computational, and data processing techniques in support of a range of scientific disciplines.
Q: What according to you are the factors that a student should consider before going for information management studies?
Information management is an area of study that is of relevance to a range of disciplines and fields of study across the humanities, social sciences and sciences. It is also of great practical relevance to organizations in a range of sectors, including business, government, health, and education, research and not-for-profit organizations. However, prospective applicants should also reflect both on the ways in which information management can extend their previous studies, or how it fits their future career aspirations and the job market.
Q: What kind of research avenues can one explore in this field? How can international students approach the School for research opportunities?
Masters level students will conduct a practical piece of research, as a normal part of their program. Depending on their interest and aptitude, there are further opportunities for studying and conducting research at doctoral level. Staff members research interests are widely publicized via research group and individual web pages, which are available via the Information School website.
Q. What are the admission requirements for international students?
A. University of Sheffield requirements for Graduate Courses are as follows: if a student has a 3 or a 4-year Bachelor Degree qualification, from a NARIC approved university, the academic requirements are 60%+ to be considered for entry to Taught Masters or Diploma study; if a student already has a 2-year Masters degree or MPhil from a NARIC approved university, the academic requirements are 50%+ to be considered for entry to Research degrees.
Students from India with a minimum 70% in English at XII Standard do not need to attain a further English language qualification. Students taking either the Pre-University Diploma or functional English will be required to provide proof of English competency via an ILETS/TOEFL/Pearson test. ILETS 6.5 overall, with 6.0 in each component is required.
Q: Does your School or University offer scholarships to international students, especially Indian students?
A.The University of Sheffield currently offers two main types of scholarships and awards to overseas full fee-paying students starting postgraduate taught programmes. All postgraduate scholarships will take the form of a tuition fee reduction. Only self-funded students, not sponsored students (either internally or externally), are eligible for scholarships and rewards. These include an Automatic Postgraduate Taught Scholarship of Â£2000 each for students paying fees between Â£15,250-Â£17250; and Â£2500 each for students paying fees of Â£17,251 upwards. NCUK students are also eligible for this award in place of but not in addition to the Automatic Postgraduate Taught Scholarship. Ten 50% Postgraduate Merit Scholarships for students from India, worth 50% of the overall original tuition fee, are awarded on the basis of academic merit.
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