A bright future for independent Jisc in 2013
On 1 December 2012, Jisc became a separate legal entity and company. Simple words – huge meaning. This was a great moment for the organisation as, for the first time, it puts its destiny in its own hands.
The change sees Jisc established as a registered charity owned by its communities via the Association of Colleges, GuildHE and Universities UK.
The change means that under the new board, chaired by Professor Sir Tim O’Shea, principal of the University of Edinburgh, Jisc is now properly set up to ensure that it will work ever more integrally with its customers and users.
The change in legal status to become an independent charity also sees the appointment of a new board of trustees and Professor Martyn Harrow as Jisc’s first chief executive.
Martyn says: “The next step in the governance process will be the introduction of a cohesive new Jisc-wide organisational approach and senior leadership team. This team will be charged with running Jisc coherently, efficiently and effectively – and ensuring that the needs of our users and ‘customers’ across research, higher education, further education and skills are at the centre of all our activities.
“We expect to establish this new team in the early part of 2013.”
Key to future success will be satisfying the needs of customers, as Sarah Porter, head of Jisc innovation, explains:
“We know that the current financial pressures that we all face mean that every investment must count, and that is why we are focussing our efforts and activities to put customer and our users needs at the heart of everything we do.
“With this in mind, we will be running a pilot scheme to develop our thinking and confirm our innovation product lifecycle. We will do this by working with professional associations and membership bodies across higher education, further education and skills,” Sarah said.
As a start on the road to meeting high priority needs, new opportunities and closer cooperation with the UK's education and research community, Jisc has been in discussions with SCONUL, RLUK and the Research Councils. The objective is to address a number of specific priorities for universities and colleges through the development of resources, tools and supported infrastructure.
Heather Fry, director for education, participation and students at HEFCE, said: “For some time Jisc has been working hard to prepare for the important transition into a separate legal body. This milestone was achieved on 1 December.
“The fact that Jisc has achieved this status is testiment to an awful lot of hard work that has taken place behind the scenes for some time and it recognises that a key milestone has been reached.
“It is now vital is that Jisc continues to provide a high-quality dedicated service to the higher and further education communities. This means that for education and research it focuses its business to meet the needs of all its users including students and academics. HEFCE is confident that Jisc will do this, and we will continue to support Jisc as it develops its role for 2013 and beyond.”
The Association of Colleges (AoC), GuildHE and Universities UK (UUK) along with Jisc’s non-executive directors and trustees will lead the organisation into 2013.
Professor Sir Tim O’Shea added, “We are delighted that we are embarking on a new phase of Jisc’s history; being owned by the communities that we serve acts as a sharp focus for our activities and puts the pressure on us to truly deliver against their needs. Customer focus is now firmly at the heart of our organisation.”
November 2012 saw Jisc’s non-executive directors and trustees share their ambitions for what they see the future with eight key objectives:
Innovation for further education, higher education and skills – lead the way in technology aided learning, product development and new services to keep the education sector ahead of the game at the forefront of international practice
Support research at the highest level – deliver against the needs of researchers, providing core infrastructure services and innovation support
A fast and powerful network – continue to supply a strong and reliable network to education and research organisations
Work in closer collaboration – continue to better understand and deliver against the needs of our customers and users, to ensure a positive student experience and skills transferable to the workplace
Business as usual – continue to provide, those highly valued and used services and deliver support, through networks such as our Regional Support Centres, who supported over 2,000 providers in the UK last year
Advice and guidance – be a trusted source of expertise for all our
Drive digital enablement – drive the use of digital technologies to improve efficiency, save money, drive student engagement, benefit the student experience and support innovation
Offer services on a large scale – provide services for universities and colleges which they are unable to implement individually.
Martyn concludes: "I really want to say how very grateful and appreciative I am of the support, encouragement, and constructive and positive feedback that I continue to receive from colleagues across the sectors as we reshape Jisc to meet the needs of the sectors it serves.”