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Last updated: 06 October 2014

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Survey of portal implementations

The survey was undertaken in 2006 and reflects the work that was being undertaken in the community at that stage.  Much has happened since then, and the status at that stage is unlikely to match current practice.

For the purpose of the survey the definition of a portal was based on that of Howard Strauss:

There is no common agreement as to what a portal is.  Many point out that the word means  doorway (often taken to be a grand doorway such as that found at the main (west) door of a  cathedral), with the implication that a portal is simply a way of accessing a number of services,  but as Strauss has stated “A Home Page Doth Not A Portal Make”.  By which he means that it is  not enough to simply bring a number of different channels or information sources together on a web  page, there is a need to provide some degree of integration and customisation,  He goes on to  describe  a portal as  a “Customized Personalized Adaptive Desktop” and it is worth exploring what  he means by each of these terms before looking at some of the implications for how one might  build a portal, and equally how one can set about shifting the entire organisation from where it is  now to having a portal.






Queen's University, Belfast

Bespoke system developed mainly using PHP and JAVA

Students and staff

All core online University business is conducted using the Queen's Online (QOL) Portal.  The system seamlessly joins together a host of backend systems and provides a single username and password for user access.

There are about 130 online applications covering all aspect of staff and student interaction with the University, including:

  • Personal information management,
  • General staff and student administration,
  • Salary and other financial transactions,
  • Module and pathway Performa,
  • Built-in bespoke VLE with some 3000+ modules,
  • Research facilities highlighting current opportunities and assisting with grant applications
  • Facilities for email and file store.

Uses Ingres and MS SQL Server backend databases

When looking at the implementation of a portal for Queen's University some 5 years ago we decided that the portal solution adopted must serve all our audiences, support all our primary/legacy technologies in one umbrella environment and have a single point of logon. At the time the market presented us with very few properly 'joined-up' options so we designed and developed our own system.

The QOL Portal is kept under review and we are currently assessing the available open source and commercial technologies that will help us achieve our University objectives for the next 5 years.

Sheffield College

In house

Staff and students primarily

MySheffcol is a Content Management Systems.  It is used thus:  to deliver online and blended learning; to support administrative and management functions, such as providing an area for publicising and booking staff training events; for course teams to share information and content

Developed in house, using consultancy from Futurate http://www.futurate.com/.  We also use Moodle as our VLE.

The Adam Smith College, Fife

In house

staff and students

booking meeting rooms, requesting audio visual support, searching and requesting materials from Reprographics, links to MIS (at that time we used FEMIS) to search for student records information, provided access to college quality documents etc. We were working on a link to our VLE (Teknical's Virtual Campus) to authenticate students from the portal to their VLE account

Since the merger of Fife College and Glenrothes College to form the new college are moving to Microsoft Sharepoint

University of Glasgow Medical School

In house

Staff and students

timetabling, booking systems and information resources, and provides a comprehensive database driven system to support delivery of Medical curriculum.  It provides a single point login for all our staff and students and additionally acts a focus for collecting all our feedback on course and staff activity.

presentation on the role of VALE in the Medical School: http://www.medicine.gla.ac.uk/portal s/Bristol_2004.htm

operational since 1998. It is shortly to get LDAP authentication added so our students only login to the University once

University of Portsmouth

In house


live student and staff portals

covering all key student records data and assessment, timetabling, library, staff-student messaging, VLE links.

We are moving to our second version as part of a new SRecords implementation and will move it all under ORACLE portal as the hosting infrastructure, providing we can link with Novell Directory Services.

Leeds Metropolitan University


Royal Holloway


Students register for academic year of study Student Message of the Day service (rss) Reuters news headlines (rss) Email View and update student record details - including address, next of kin, current enrolments + ...

View student financial transactions and make payments View pdf of fees and accommodation invoices View Examinations 9timetable View Exam results View library account (staff and student) Online reading lists for courses New books in the library (rss) New journal issues in the library (rss) Information about Student Loan Company applications Information about students college accommodation (what rooms they have been allocated) Library opening hours information Links to key campus services Links to key library resources Report and track problems with our Facilities Management helpdesk (nominated staff only) Enter details into student gradebook (nominated staff only) Staff intranet news (rss)

Previously used uPortal with a limited availability.

University College Chichester


University of Birmingham


University of Greenwich


As well as our student records system we intend to integrate our corporate  VLE(WebCT), email and library systems

We intend to go live with the system a the beginning of the 06/07 academic year

University of Nottingham


University of Sheffield


University of Ulster


University of Wales, Bangor


University of Leeds

Luminis and CMS (some uportal development)

access to student record, online registration, online module enrolment (all Banner), library account (III Millenium), VLE (Bodington), email (Webmail and OWA).  Others under development

in development; Going live in May 06 to all undergrads.

Under discussion: - plans to extend portal lifecycle to post grads, applicants, prospects, alumni and staff.

Also under discussion: - plans to extend functionality to integrate portal/VLE more closely.

University of Southampton

Luminis version 3.iii.1

all current members of the university

provide access to pretty much every online university resource - the Corporate & Marketing department making use of the portal so that all the information on our website (www.soton.ac.uk) is "outward facing" for marketing and recruitment purposes.

We've got single sign on to email, Blackboard, ePrints, AdminServices (staff and student housekeeping stuff like Timetables, financial accounts, car parking applications etc.). We're currently developing single sign on to a careers database for current students, an RAE related database for the university's submission for the exercise and our software download site.

What we don't have (but plenty of others do, and it pains me because I'm a librarian by profession) is single sign on to library applications.

This is because we don't have Athens DA (Distributed Authentication) or any library "portal" such as Metalib etc. There is a Shibboleth project going on (slowly) which will help us improve our service in this area in the future.

student view, a support & professional services staff view, and a faculty (teaching staff) view.

plans to develop an alumni and prospective students' portal

Brockenhurst College

Microsoft SharePoint

Live for learners, parents, staff, governors, partner organisations

College info/news, targeted links, e-learning resources, discussion groups, document repository, search, student ILPs, personalisation through My Site, integration with Active Directory and with MIS using sweet.net toolkit

Pretty easy to use out the box. Low cost at start- up - basic WSS is part of W2K3. Straightforward development of bespoke webparts using Visual Studio (recent release of .NET2 etc should improve this further). Nice integration with MS Office and a growing range of other MS servers and apps. Current version is lacking in accessibility functionality. Can be tricky getting support info out of MS - unless working via one of their channel partners (which can be expensive).

Cardiff University

Novell portal

London Southbank University

Oracle linked to LDAP being investigated

Via the portal we would expect students to see:

  • Latest news, events, service information and important links to other information to students from LSBU, his/her faculty, student union / other LSBU student organisations
  • Individual messages to them from LSBU
  • A link to see their financial position with LSBU
  • A link to see their marks from the SRS
  • A link to resources in LIS where they could see what they had loaned, extend loans, etc.
  • A link to reading lists for the courses that they are on
  • A link the Blackboard sites that they are connected to
  • A link to personal workspace where files can be stored
  • A link to their emails
  • Links that they could add themselves to other sites

Via the portal we would expect staff to see:

  • Latest news, events, service information and important links to other information to staff from LSBU, his/her faculty/dept, other LSBU staff organisations Individual messages to them from LSBU
  • A link to the SRS so academics could access information about
  • the students enrolled on their courses / units
  • A link the Blackboard sites that they are managing
  • A link to the finance department so they could see salary information
  • A link to the Staff Development Unit so that they could see their personal development plan and available staff development opportunities and book them
  • A link to resources in LIS where they could see what they had oaned, extend loans, etc.
  • A link to personal workspace where files can be stored and shared
  • A link to their emails
  • Links that they could add themselves to other sites

Imperial College London

Oracle Portal

in development

University of Abertay Dundee

Oracle Portal

Staffordshire University

Oracle Portal (CampusEAI)

For corporate use.

Currently at proof of concept stage

University of Bradford

Oracle Portal (CampusEAI)

Selected and starting implementation, specifically developing proof of concept

University of Exeter

Oracle Portal (CampusEAI)

all students and staff

e-mail (using Squirrelmail), WebCT, III Millenium and some form of access to a networked filespace (using WebDAV functionlity, based on the idea of uPortal's Briefcase)

Production version by September 2006

investigating integration with eVision (SITS), Syllabus Plus (Scientia) and the integration of RSS feeds as a method for notification

Southampton Solent University

Oracle Portal in conjunction with Contensis CMS

Students, then staff

student email, timetabling, course alerts, VLE provisions, library systems info (late books etc), student files, social alerts, phone book, finance debt/credit, and eventually everything !!

We hope to have our student intranet replaced by start of ac06-07 with the other services and our staff intranet moving into the portal as the year goes on.

University of York

Pilot project looked at Oracle 9iAS. Now considering uPortal.

Initial phases will include access to e-mail, calendaring and news information.

The VLE (Blackboard) integration will form part of the phased development along with corporate applications such as access to our finance system (for those with appropriate authorisation).

University of Newcastle upon Tyne


Birkbeck College (University of London)


for our L4ALL pilot system (not for roll out across the uni though!)

See:  http://ww.lkl.ac.uk/research/l4all/for more detail on the project.

De Montfort University



individual timetable information and assessment results through a direct link to student records and uploaded data from the academic database and time tabling

London Metropolitan University


in development

London School of Economics


in process of transition from in-house portal solution

Manchester Metropolitan University


Staffordshire University Regional Federation


Currently at proof of concept stage

University of Bristol


University of Edinburgh


staff, students and alumni

most are available via the portal - Personal HR or student data; library personal record & catalogue; VLE; voting (eg rectoral election, Students association); announcements; access to call management service (user support for various groups); access to Student information system; course bookings & admin, ... Lots and its growing all the time

University of Hull


University of Liverpool


University of Manchester


student portal

launch planned for autumn 06

University of Oxford


University of the West of England


in development