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The review, chaired by Sir Alan Wilson, consulted extensively and found that JISC has played a pivotal role in the UK as an enabler of innovation and widespread adoption of ICT in universities and colleges. Its shared services (most notably JANET, the Joint Academic Network) have become indispensable to the higher and further education sectors. The report says that JISC has done outstanding work to create and collect electronic content and resources, and has achieved substantial value for money, particularly in negotiating collective procurement for higher and further education institutions.

Alongside the praise the review found there was criticism of the breadth and complexity of JISC's activities, and of its structure, processes and governance arrangements. There were also questions about the impact of JISC's activity.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

'JISC has developed a strong international reputation as a strategic leader and partner offering a unique service to UK further and higher education. We agree with the review’s recommendations that its strategy has become too broad and it now needs to re-prioritise its activities. With our funding partners we now look to a smaller, reconstituted JISC Board to take forward these recommendations.'

The review concluded that at a time of financial constraint it was necessary to re-focus activities around clearer priorities, and to ensure that JISC operates within a sustainable financial model.

The HEFCE Board received the report of the JISC Review on 28 January and endorsed the direction of its recommendations while noting that implementing some of the recommendations will be complex and require further investigation to determine the best way forward.

The key recommendations of the review include:

  • focusing activities to achieve a large impact through activities clearly linked to the sectors’ priorities
  • services and projects should be rationalised with a view to significantly reducing their number
  • JISC should become a separate legal entity funded through a combination of grants and subscriptions or user charges
  • structure and processes should change, with the Board becoming smaller, more strategic and differently composed
  • there should be discussions between JISC, the funders, sector representatives and other bodies to determine the overall funding strategy for ICT in higher and further education.

Taking forward the review's recommendations will be a matter for all the funders (see note 4) as well as JISC. Dr Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary of JISC, said:

'This is a great opportunity for a reconstituted JISC Board to reshape, strengthen and create an organisation to meet the needs of UK education and research for the future.'


Notes

  1. JISC was established in 1993 as an advisory committee to the UK higher education funding bodies, in order to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of ICT to support education, research and institutional effectiveness. Between 2000 and 2006 JISC also took on the responsibility for further education.
  2. 'Review of the Joint Information Systems Committee: Report to HEFCE by the JISC Review Group' (HEFCE 2011/04) is available at on the HEFCE web-site.
  3. The review into the strategy, activities and effectiveness of JISC was commissioned by HEFCE, working with all of JISC's public funders in higher and further education. It encompasses the full range of JISC's activities.
  4. JISC is funded by all of the UK higher and further education funding bodies (including BIS and the Research Councils). The budget for 2010-11 is £89 million with a further £28 million for capital expenditure.
  5. The HEFCE Board discussed the review of JISC at its meeting on 28 January.

    Board paper concerning this Review

    [ Download the B10.pdf as PDF (96 KB) | Download the Download Board paper concerning this Review as MS Word 131K as MS Word (132 KB) ]

  6. Further details of the review are published on the JISC web-site, including JISC's response.