Annual review 2006/2007
Archived: to view the 2006-07 annual review in full visit our web archive
Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary
The last year has seen a significant growth in the use of JISC network, content and advisory services, and the Value for Money report, published in January, indicated the extent of their impact on the community.
There have also been important developments in the provision of the ICT infrastructure which, while it’s often taken for granted – as an effective infrastructure is bound to be – is increasingly significant - and not only for the research community, but also to learning and teaching, as well as of course to the administration and management of institutions.
JISC’s updated strategy, published in January, is in some ways a continuation of the strategy put forward in 2004 but updated to take into account changes in the external environment. There have been strategic inputs through HEFCE’s e-learning strategy, for example, as well as the DfES’s e-strategy, which pointed to some very useful work we could do more broadly across the education sector as a whole, and the (former) Office of Science Innovation’s e-infrastructure report. Another significant driver has been the growing use of Web 2.0 technologies, particularly in the e-learning space.
It is difficult to think of anything that JISC does that doesn’t involve working in partnership with another organisation. The Internet internationalises so much of higher education and research such that we do have to work closely with other countries. So we have very strong international partnerships, as this review indicates, to help ensure that we can maintain our position and so that in some areas – such as repositories, for example - we can influence other countries.
Within the UK too, partnerships are particularly important. We work closely with the Higher Education Academy so that we can understand the needs of the teaching profession. It is necessary for us to work with the Research Councils so that we understand the infrastructure needs of the research community. But our work has relevance and value beyond further and higher education. So our partnership with Becta is important particularly in the areas of network provision to the schools sector and access management, but also increasingly in e-content, student progression and - an area I care about particularly – using ICT to help potential university students have a better understanding of what the academic experience is like at universities.
While this Annual Review shows the range and the extent of JISC’s activities in the coming year, they also point to what I hope will be further significant progress in the coming year.
Listen to the interview with Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary
Professor Sir Ron Cooke, JISC Chair
It’s been a busy and an important year once again. JISC updated its strategy during the last year. It helped deliver the e-infrastructure report, which is helping to drive the UK’s science and innovation agendas. We also successfully launched SuperJANET5, the update to the JANET network. This was a huge change which has gone without a hitch.
There has also been progress in areas which are not quite so obvious, such as our work on repositories and the storage of research data. There’s been continued progress with digitisation. The new JISC Collections company has established itself. Another important activity involves changes in access management arrangements which have involved nearly every institution in the country.
The updated strategy is helping us deal with a whole series of issues, such as continued and rapid technological change, the rise in staff and student expectations, the need to rationalise systems and ensure their compatibility, and the growing need to archive research data.
But the essence of what we do is in our operating plan and in the work we do through our sub-committees which are dominated by users from the community. This ensures our work is guided by the needs of the community as well as the lead given us by the funding councils.
But challenges remain and we do need to continue to engage practitioners and individuals and to convince them of the value of ICT in a variety of contexts. But here again there are positive signs from the last year, such as our continued work through the Regional Support Centres (RSCs), our provision of online materials, JISC’s new and highly successful web site and our collaboration with the Higher Education Academy, a collaboration which is helping us to reach subject communities.
As for the coming year, I have no doubt it will be as busy as the last. But I hope too that we will be able to start delivering in those areas that have been emerging over the last year; that the new access management technologies will be fully operational; that there will be continued progress in the area of data storage, and that the new area of JISC’s work – that of Business and Community Engagement – will demonstrate that ICT has a major role to play in supporting knowledge transfer.
Listen to the interview with Professor Sir Ron Cooke, JISC Chair