The Portals programme will investigate the role of portals within the Information Environment and build demonstrators in different areas to demonstrate possibilities, leading to full portal services. Supporting studies and co-operative development with other JISC programmes will be carried out towards creating a fully developed view of the nature and use of portals within learning, teaching & research.

Portals Programme

The term 'portal' is commonly used but can mean many different things. A portal can be, for example, a simple locally held directory of online resources such as the British Academy PORTAL - sometimes called a 'thin' portal, or it can be a search across distributed databases of information, not all of it web-based, such as the Historic Environment Information Resources PORTal (HEIRPORT) - sometimes called a 'thick' portal. In all cases, though, portals bring relevant information together and provide access to this through a common point of access, an essential task in these days of ever increasing information overload. But how can portals be used best by those within colleges and universities? This programme has been initiated to inform and develop the use of portals within further and higher education in the UK.

Aims and objectives

This programme aims to develop a view of the nature and role of a portal within the context of the JISC Information Environment. Specific objectives are to:

  • create a series of demonstrator portals in different areas (subject, format-based, community-based)
  • demonstrate possibilities and good practice in portal usage
  • discover how portals can and will be used across further and higher education
  • determine how portals can best serve institutions in making information resources available to their users
  • explore the role of portals in the key role of delivering content within and outside formal education as a means of controlling access to available resources

Work under this programme will be undertaken through projects and studies.
The programme will work closely with the Shared Services programme to build the best supporting infrastructure for portals, and with the Presentation programme to develop the best means of presenting information to users through the portals. In addition, the role of portals as gate-keepers to available resources will be explored in association with the programmes involved in content submission and disclosure, FAIR programme and  X4L programme. A watching brief will be kept over the development of institutional portals and work will be undertaken alongside members of the Managed Learning Environments team to examine and establish good practice in the building of such systems within further and higher education institutions. Based on the experience of creating the demonstrator portals, developing these into full services will be investigated and a strategy for portal roll out will be created for future development.

Work in the Portals programme is being advised by UKOLN. Here is some information on work done so far.

Portal FAQs has been developed to frame the work and to place this in the context of portals development beyond JISC.

The programme is managed by Balviar Notay. Some projects in the programme are funded under other programmes; these projects are:


  • Balviar Notay, Programme Manager, Digital Infrastructure

    Telephone: +44 (0) 203 006 6053

    Mobile: +44 (0) 7891 544 023


    Fax: +44 (0) 207 240 5377

  • Rachel Bruce, Innovation Director, Digital Infrastructure

    Telephone: +44 (0) 203 006 6061

    Mobile: +44 (0) 7841 951 300


    Fax: +44 (0) 207 240 5377

End date
31 July 2009
Working Groups
Strategic Themes