Annual review 2020/21

Paul Feldman

“To all members, colleagues, trustees, funders and owners, as I look back on my six years as CEO, I want to take this final opportunity to say thank you. I am very proud of the journey we’ve shared and of everything we’ve achieved in this time. I’m delighted to be handing over the reins to Heidi Fraser-Krauss, who I know will build on our successes and take Jisc to new heights.”

Paul Feldman, Jisc CEO

Download the 2020/21 annual review (pdf)

Paul Boyle

“Our experience of the past year has once again highlighted the adaptability of the organisation and if there is a positive that comes from the past months, it is that there is a renewed understanding of the possibilities for digital in the education and research system. At such a critical time for Jisc and the wider higher and further education, research and skills sectors, it is an honour and a privilege to have taken over as chair.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Jisc chair

Powering you

It’s our mission to empower you with the technology and data you need to succeed. Underpinned by our robust and resilient network, Jisc products and services keep your systems and data protected, and staff and students operating safely online.  

With a rise in the number of ransomware attacks on colleges and universities this year, we’ve been working with you to improve your defences. Simon Hewitt from Dundee and Angus College shares how they rebuilt and recovered from an attack, while Gareth Packham at Oxford Brookes University highlights why security is a consideration for the whole organisation.

“It helped that we had asked the Jisc cyber security team to provide data analysis of the attack and their recommendations backed up what we were saying. Their support throughout was outstanding.”
Simon Hewitt, principal, Dundee and Angus College

Having recently benefited from a Janet Network upgrade as part of the Janet access programme, Hereward College now have improved bandwidth and reliability which is broadening their options for teaching, learning and pastoral support into the future.

“All our learners have disabilities of some kind, from autism and learning difficulties through to physical disabilities. Maintaining a routine can be incredibly important for our cohort, and interruptions, including to streaming services, can really upset some students.”
Simon Shackleton, technical, estates, and facilities manager, Hereward College

Seeking digital transformation to ensure their vital services are ‘always on’, the Samaritans have kept downtime to a minimum to avoid disrupting contact with vulnerable members of the public, with the help of our cloud services team.

"Whenever unexpected issues cropped up with other project partners Jisc went above and beyond to find a solution and make sure progress wasn’t derailed.”
Paul Saklatvala, Samaritans’ assistant director of IT

And, having on-demand access to higher education datasets within Heidi Plus, The British Academy are carrying out activities more comprehensively, quickly and effectively.

“Heidi Plus has helped us to develop and inform our work and, in turn, our impact – not just in the HE sector, but on a broader societal level.”
Safia Mizon Thioune, The British Academy

Getting creative

The way we deliver learning and teaching has changed forever. Together we’ve been looking to the future to explore the power of technology in finding creative ways to deliver learning and teaching.  

As part of the learning and teaching reimagined initiative, we have been sharing visions on what higher education may look like in 2030. Dr Nick Barrett from the Open University​ imagines a future where a new higher education reform act would create a free-market system giving learners the freedom to move between institutions to make up their courses.

Earlier this year we launched our National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has the potential to transform teaching and learning, by providing a personalised learning experience that improves, among many things, social mobility and student wellbeing. We believe that taking a national, coordinated approach could accelerate this transformation by implementing the best AI solutions in our colleges and universities. 

From the creative use of the chat panel to visiting new worlds using virtual reality, you’ve been sharing how you’re using technology to help engage students in new and interesting ways.


Skills for life

By demonstrating digital leadership you’re inspiring your peers and learners. Equipping your staff with the digital skills they need to deliver a first-class, accessible education, and giving your students the transferable skills they need to thrive.  

As digital becomes a central feature of learning and teaching, strong leadership and a clear vision are essential traits that underpin successful transformation.

This year, we introduced an online version of our digital leaders programme. Paula Kilburn, the Education Training Collective and Jo Loss, Essex Adult Community Learning, reflect on their time on the programme.

“The support we get from Jisc is key to helping us move forward. We’ve reached out to our account manager, and she’s been invaluable in making sure we know what resources and support are available.”
Paula Kilburn, group learning technologies manager, the Education Training Collective.

When planning a digital strategy, the library might not be the first place that springs to mind. Mark Hughes, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Alison Harding, University of Wales Trinity St David and James Stephen, University of Cumbria share why students, staff and the whole institution can benefit when a library service leads or co-creates the digital strategy.

Committed to addressing digital inequality for all learners, we’re helping to remove barriers that learners face in accessing their education online. We’ve been encouraging local authorities in England to collaborate with us in providing access to our eduroam roaming service through their existing govroam networks.

“A lack of access to quality, inexpensive connectivity affected many learners during lockdown - and this issue isn't going away. It's crucial we come together to address this, moving quickly and creatively.”
Paul Feldman, Jisc CEO

With demand for digital skills increasing, our Prospects service has been helping to prepare students and graduates properly for the future job market. Students from the universities of Liverpool, Bedfordshire and Newcastle share their experiences of securing a job offer during lockdown.

Bringing people together

By working alongside you and other members in the community, we can connect people, share information and expertise, as well as negotiate on your behalf to drive down costs for all and secure a more sustainable model.  

Together with the sector, we have successfully negotiated more than 30 open access agreements with publishers which mean researchers can publish open access at no cost to them and at a sustainable cost to their institution. Over 50% of all UK research output is covered by a Jisc-negotiated transitional agreement as we continue to negotiate agreements that support the transition to open access. Find out more about some of these agreements:

  • National Academy of Sciences
  • EMS Press
  • BMJ
  • American physiological society
  • CSH Press
  • Emerald Publishing
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Taylor and Francis Group

IT professional working in a data centreAs the UK’s NREN (National research and education network) we administer the GEANT OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) Cloud Framework. We advocate and influence with cloud technology providers on your behalf so you can buy public cloud more easily and cost effectively.

“Jisc’s services are changing and so are we. We’ve had a meeting of minds and this is helping us get extra value from our subscription.”
Nicola Bibby, The Courtauld

Laptop and book

The UK’s researchers, learners and teachers now have free access to a new history of science collection thanks to an R&D project to develop sustainable approaches to digitising collections which brought together the University of Liverpool with academic publisher Wiley.

“We don’t have the capacity to undertake large-scale digitisation projects ourselves”
Jenny Higham, head of special collections, University of Liverpool

Fiona Macneill Over the course of this year’s calendar of events, we welcomed more than 14,000 delegates to share knowledge and experiences in their areas of interest and expertise. Along with online communities such as the accessibility community, you’ve shared experiences, good and bad, and worked together creating innovative new ideas.

“The accessibility community group was the right thing at the right time. Having Jisc staff coordinating it has been incredibly helpful as otherwise it would be hard to have that consistency and continuity”
Fiona Macneil, learning technologist, University of Brighton

Making an impact

Through the power of collaboration and the sharing of data you’re making new discoveries while helping change the lives of people in your community.  

With an increasing demand for genetic and health data, understanding human disease is made possible thanks to organisations like EMBL-EBI and the UK Biobank. We’re providing EMBL-EBI with access to a robust infrastructure and shared data centre space, which is supporting their worldwide role of providing open data to the life-science community.

Mallory Freeburg
“Increasingly, more large-scale initiatives around the world are under way, and through its collaboration with Jisc, EMBL-EBI is well positioned to support sharing of these data”

Dr Mallory Freeberg, project lead EGA, EMBL-EBI

As we rely on digital records more than ever, we recently partnered with The Wiley Digital Archive platform to digitise the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s collections. Dr Alex Hall, University of Birmingham explains how digital archives power future research, teaching and learning.

Alex Hall
“Digital archives truly are the future of research”

Dr Alex Hall, science and environmental historian, University of Birmingham

And with physical, non-digital routes to data being cut off, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium share how the Janet Network has enabled transfers of massive astronomical datasets from Australia, allowing them to continue their cutting-edge research during the pandemic and beyond.

Ciaran Magee
“We're going to have better and better bandwidth, and we wouldn't be able to do these transfers without it.”

Ciaran Magee, ICT manager, AOP

Our finances

Nicola Arnold

"As financial sustainability remains a key focus for us all, we’re committed to working with you to understand and support your needs. Our ongoing financial sustainability underpins our strategy, so we can continue to invest in the development and ongoing delivery of services that deliver the most value to our members and customers.

"The agreement by HMRC that additional VAT could be reclaimed on our activities will result in a repayment of VAT from the past seven years and we are looking to invest in areas which we believe will bring most benefit to members and align to our funders’ priorities.

"To date, we have approved the funding of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence, support for Student Minds and the development of a digital elevation modelling tool for FE colleges. Cyber support for all our members is at the forefront of our plans and we are actively working to provide additional protection and monitoring capability across the whole of the Janet Network. The open access agenda and the wider collaboration and collation of research data, papers and equipment will also be an area of focus.

"We are working to keep subscriptions low and maintain increases that are inflation-based or less, and our overall subscription income has increased by less than one percent in the last two years. Providing you with best quality services so you can deliver world-class learning, teaching and research remains a priority."

Nicola Arnold, Jisc chief financial officer

Read our financial summary.

Our year in numbers

18m Janet Network users… …in education, research, science parks and public sector bodies. 5m OpenAthens users in 2,600 organisations over 65 countries £7 .1m savings… …in sector licensing deals since the pandemic. 246 consultancy engagements… …by the Jisc cloud team in the last year. 24,649 users of Heidi plus, our HE business intelligence tool. 169 events delivered online with almost 14,000 delegates. 41+ FE 25+ HE …net promoter score (NPS), and customer satisfaction scores of… 91% 86% 5,372 learners from 10 different FE colleges, and 21,697 students from 15 different universities took part in our digital experience insights survey. 800 Foundation DDoS attacks against our members mitigated. 110 training workshops delivered with 1,250 participants. 19,000 monthly readers of Luminate, the graduate labour market platform.