We answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the potential impact to Jisc of the UK leaving the European Union.
Updated 21 January 2021.
Since the decision to leave the European Union was made, Jisc has undertaken ongoing reviews of its Brexit readiness, each building on the increasing information available in the public domain and through engagement with suppliers and other external parties.
Now that the UK has left the European Union, Jisc has adopted a rigorous approach to dealing with any possible impact on its UK membership and value to the higher education, further education and research sectors. We have already implemented pro-active management plans based on scenarios issued by the UK Government.
We do not forsee any scenario arising from the UK's exit from the European Union having an immediate impact on our ability to support our members in the further, higher and research sectors. All our key products and services should remain accessible without any interruption. This includes continued access to the secure, world-class connectivity provided by the Janet Network.
Questions are grouped under the following themes:
Is Jisc undertaking Brexit contingency planning?
Yes. Key senior managers, services managers and expert specialists across Jisc continually review the impacts arising from the UK’s exit from the EU.
Jisc will continue to review any potential impact to Jisc and its membership as well as establish all possible mitigating actions to address any negative implications.
What headline conclusions have been drawn from Jisc’s Brexit risk assessment?
The UK has now left the European Union. All our key products and services should be accessible without any interruption. This includes continued access to the secure, world-class connectivity provided by the Janet Network.
Operationally, Jisc may incur some minor unanticipated costs which would be offset in our operating plans. This could include costs associated with significant currency exchange rate volatility.
Any need to adjust budgets as a result of currency fluctuations will be handled at group level. These unanticipated costs could mean that, in the short-term, we would be unable to invest in as many new services or make non-essential investments directed towards improving existing ones.
We are continuously monitoring developments and believe Jisc is as well-prepared as any organisation can be at this time.
What does Brexit mean for Jisc members’ access to global connectivity?
Jisc members will continue to have access to the secure, world-class connectivity provided by the Janet Network.
Crucially, we expect to retain membership of GÉANT – the pan-European research network – under any Brexit scenario. This provides Jisc members with secure, world-class onward global connectivity, in conjunction with the Janet Network.
We are committed to supporting, by whatever means appropriate, continued access by the UK’s research and education base to the benefits of European and global collaboration. To this end, we continue to foster partnerships with national research and education network (NREN) partners around the world.
Will there be any impact on Jisc cyber security services?
No. Our main suppliers of larger cyber platforms and systems are based in the USA. Any hardware required will be dispatched direct from the US to UK.
Jisc benefits from cyber security intelligence arising from its relationships with government agencies and other security authorities in the UK. These relationships are not expected to be impacted by Brexit.
We do not expect members to experience disruption in accessing the vast majority of digital resources they currently use. However, some aspects of copyright practice, such as orphan works, are dependent on European directives.
Now that the UK has left the European Union, The British Library have been advised by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) that the EU orphan works directive no longer applies to their use and publication of material without a traceable author, so online access to this material will cease. As such Jisc has removed the Spare Rib archive from Journal Archives.
In the event of a new, UK framework for dealing with orphaned works, Jisc and the British Library both hope to be able to make this archive available once more to researchers to the fullest extent possible.
Will the Jisc subscription be impacted by Brexit?
Subscription is fixed for 2020-21. Decisions have not yet been made on 2021-22 subscription. There are many contributing factors to Jisc’s subscription and Brexit may be one of these, but it is too early to say what any impact might be.
How dependent is Jisc on funding grants from the European institutions?
While we receive a small subsidy from the European Commission, we are not dependent on this income.
How would Jisc respond to a tightening or restriction of funding from central government or the devolved administrations?
In the event that our funding was reduced by government, we would review our spending to determine whether any non-essential projects should be delayed, and also review the impact on our operations.
Reducing operating costs year-on-year and diversifying income streams are key strategic priorities for Jisc.
How important is the EU market to Jisc revenues
The EU does not represent a significant marketplace for Jisc’s overall business sales and is a minor source of revenue. For EU users of the OpenAthens service, we expect limited impact on prices even now that the UK has left the European Union. It would not be prioritised over our UK members and customers in the event of conflicting objectives.
Are Jisc’s supply chains exposed to potential logistical disruption under the Brexit scenarios?
An analysis of our supply chain has not identified any immediate areas of concern as most major equipment supplies are directly sourced, or can be alternatively sourced, outside of the EU. Where we are reliant on EU supplies, such as end user devices, we acquired small stocks to cover the period following 31 December.
We have worked with key suppliers to understand their plans for ensuring supplies originating from or passing through EU member states is not disrupted and will take action if we assess that these plans are insufficiently robust. For key suppliers to the Janet Network in particular, we have completed these assessments and are satisfied with the assurances received.
How would Jisc be impacted if current suppliers withdrew or relocated away from the UK?
We would expect minimal impact if current suppliers withdrew or relocated away from the UK. If we do anticipate supply chain difficulties, we will explore alternative procurement solutions.
Could Jisc’s products and services be exposed to new EU duties or tariffs?
No. We do not expect Jisc’s products or services to be exposed to new duties or tariffs.
A small proportion of Jisc’s expenditure is on items that originate from outside the UK, which may be priced in currencies other than sterling – principally US dollars or euros. In some cases, our supply contracts have explicitly mitigated the risk of currency fluctuation; a smaller number are denominated in other currencies. Chest agreement pricing is largely contractually controlled in the short term. Others, although denominated in sterling, may be subject to price changes if the supplier decides to raise prices as a result of sterling losing value, and where those prices are not guaranteed contractually.
We are monitoring the likelihood and impact of cost variations caused by currency fluctuation closely and have taken steps to help mitigate against any adverse effects, including holding relevant foreign currencies.
What would exchange rate volatility mean for member content subscriptions?
Jisc Collections content agreements are all based in English law but around 30 are with publishers based in the EU.
Jisc has no exposure in the vast majority of cases because over the last five years we have moved almost all agreements into sterling. There is still some exposure for those members (around 112 at October 2020) who have euro subscriptions.
We understand members could potentially face increased costs and slower processing times for euro transactions after Brexit, especially if the UK can no longer participate in central payments infrastructures such as theSingle Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which allows members to make cross-border payments at a relatively low cost.
Would delivery of Jisc’s products and services be impacted by potential labour wage cost pressures?
No. The delivery of Jisc’s products and services is not expected to be impacted by potential increased wages in the event of EU originating labour exiting the UK.
Would Jisc expertise be impacted if its EU originating staff leave the UK?
The expertise within Jisc is not currently drawn extensively from staff who are nationals of other remaining EU states. We would therefore expect little or no impact if EU originating staff left the UK. We continue to undertake work in this area.
Would delivery of Jisc’s products and services be impacted by changes to freedom of movement between the UK and remaining EU states?
No. The delivery of Jisc’s products and services to members does not require free or unhindered movement of staff within and across EU member state boundaries.
Do Jisc’s product or services require clearance, certification or regulatory approval from EU standards body, for which the UK has no current equivalent?
Could cross-border data transfer arrangements over Jisc’s products and services be impacted by Brexit? (updated 8 January 2021)
Horizon Europe implications
Jisc is currently a member of various EC e-infrastructure organisations including GÉANT – the pan-European research network that connects all Jisc members to the rest of the world, and Jisc are committed to retaining membership of GÉANT. This enables Jisc to promote its services and ensure interoperability between networks and our UK university and research members, at an international level. All these organisations permit either international “third country” membership and/or Council of Europe membership so beyond Brexit, Jisc expects that engagement can continue as it currently stands. Jisc acknowledges and supports the intent for the UK to participate in Horizon Europ as an Associate Country.
In addition, we would also expect the ability to transfer data through cloud services from the UK into EU organisations to be covered by contracts, including the EU-approved Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs).
Data protection implications
In terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) the UK Government has indicated that it expects GDPR provisions to remain in force for some time, if not indefinitely.
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed at the end of 2020 means transfers of personal data to and processing of personal data in the UK will continue to be treated like data processing in the EU for at least the next four months.
As long as there are no changes to UK data protection legislation, this means in practical day to day terms we don’t need to apply any additional safeguards for transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK, and the situation remains the same as before.
Our data protection team is monitoring the situation and will share updates if anything changes.
Jisc products and services that hold personal data have been identified and assessed for where data is stored (UK, EEA, outside EEA).
The majority of our data is stored in the UK, such as M365 and D365 which are held on Microsoft servers and our Salesforce CRM instance. The data stored in AWS is held in Dublin.
We are reviewing privacy notices accordingly and are in the process of adopting ICO guidance recommendations.
- See further guidance on international personal data transfers on the Information Commissioner’s Office website
- Watch a webinar recording from Andrew Cormack, Jisc's chief regulatory adviser, on the effect that Brexit will have on the GDPR
Preparing for Brexit (a 60 second overview)
Read the ICO guidance in full on their website. Any further arrangements are yet to be confirmed by the ICO.
If you have any questions regarding data protection, contact the team on email@example.com.
To find out how Brexit affects our members more broadly, please check the following links from sector organisations:
- Universities UK - Brexit and UK universities
- Association of Colleges - Brexit
- UK Research and Innovation - working on EU-funded projects
- UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: implications for universities