We answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the potential impact to Jisc of the UK leaving the European Union under any scenario.
As the possibility for a no-deal Brexit grows closer, we are reviewing the potential operational impact of this for our services and on our members. We'll provide updates below on the latest known developments and direct to members in due course.
Questions are grouped under the following themes:
Is Jisc undertaking Brexit contingency planning?
Yes. Jisc has established a cross-functional team including senior managers, service managers and expert specialists to review the potential impacts arising from the UK's exit from the EU. We are constantly reviewing any potential impact to Jisc and our membership as political developments arise. This is being coordinated at the highest level through the executive leadership team.
What headline conclusions have been drawn from Jisc’s Brexit risk assessment?
We do not expect any Brexit scenario to have an immediate impact on our ability to support members. All our key products and services should be accessible without major 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 (see "how exposed is Jisc to exchange rate volatility?" for further detail).
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.
If there is no immediate equivalent to this copyright regime post-Brexit, access to a small number of services such as the Spare Rib archive, which we deliver on behalf of the British Library, could be compromised. Likewise, the planned digitisation of some historical resources could be impacted.
Will the Jisc subscription be impacted by Brexit?
No. Subscription is currently fixed until 2020.
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 very minor source of revenue. For EU users of the OpenAthens service, we expect limited impact on prices even under World Trade Organization (WTO) terms that would apply in the event of a no-deal exit. 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?
Jisc is not dependent on physical distribution of its products and services. We do not expect significant logistical disruption to our supply chains under any Brexit scenario.
Although several Jisc suppliers provide equipment manufactured outside the UK, or services which are themselves dependent on products manufactured overseas, many of our contracts specify that relevant stocks are to be maintained within the UK.
We are working 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 will 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 minimal exposure for those members (around 70 at August 2018) who have non-sterling 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 the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which allows members to make cross-border payments at a relatively low cost.
Could Jisc’s staff retention and recruitment be impacted by Brexit?
No. Jisc employs a small number of EU nationals. The government's "default" position is to grant all existing EU nationals settled status, subject to registration.
Jisc does not make extensive use of low wage or unskilled workforce currently drawn predominantly from remaining EU member states. However, it is possible that restrictions on the employment of EU nationals after Brexit could increase the difficulty in recruiting in skilled areas. However, these roles would likely exceed the government’s proposed salary thresholds.
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 29 August 2019)
We expect to retain our membership of GÉANT – the pan-European research network that connects all Jisc members to the rest of the world. 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).
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. However, the UK will become - for data protection purposes - a "third country" when it leaves the EU.
According to the UK Government, the transfer of personal data from the UK to EEA members will be unaffected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. For personal data transferred from the EEA to UK, under the GDPR an EEA controller or processor will be able to make a restricted transfer of personal data to the UK if the European Commission grants an adequacy decision.
If an adequacy decision is not granted by the European Commission (likely to be the case in the event of a no deal Brexit), personal data can still be transferred from the EEA to the UK if the sender has put in place one of the following:
- Standard and ad hoc data protection clauses approved by the European Commission. These contracts offer the additional adequate safeguards with respect to data protection that are needed in case of a transfer of personal data to any third country
- Binding corporate rules
- Codes of conduct and certification mechanisms
Jisc products and services that hold personal data have been identified and assessed for where data is stored (UK, EEA, outside EEA). Much of the data we store is held at AWS in Dublin. We are reviewing privacy notices accordingly and are in the process of adopting ICO guidance recommendations.
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 - UKRI and EU exit