The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) today publishes a new report entitled Jisc: a hidden advantage for higher education, written by the chief executive of Jisc, Martyn Harrow, with a foreword by Nick Hillman, director of HEPI.
The report highlights the £200m annual savings from the current shared infrastructure provided by Jisc and charts the potential for new shared services – including a ‘university in a box’ concept that could free up university spending on technology for reinvestment in research, teaching and learning.
Ahead of anticipated changes to Jisc’s funding model, the report warns that policymakers and institutions need to recognise the value generated through the UK’s shared infrastructure for higher and further education.
Jisc works with every publicly financed higher education and further education institution in the UK, more than 600 in total, and is one of the key pillars on which the world class reputation of the education sector depends.
Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, said:
"Ministers and civil servants have not had to worry about IT infrastructure in our universities because it has generally worked well. That reflects Jisc’s world-beating success. Other countries look jealously at our successful shared service.
Jisc’s achievements, which often take place off the radar, are in stark contrast to other big IT projects, which have typically been over budget, late and not fit for purpose. Yet forthcoming changes could make Jisc a victim of its own success. Funding changes will put the onus on individual universities to subscribe to Jisc’s services for the first time.
In the rearview mirror, Jisc’s history looks comparatively smooth but the road ahead is bumpy and laden with obstacles. The best way to address those challenges is to recognise the benefits of collective provision for individual institutions and the education sector as a whole."
The author of the report, Martyn Harrow, said:
"Jisc does the things that it makes sense to do on a UK level once rather than a hundred times over. If our coverage were to be reduced because of decision making that is not informed by the full value that the UK’s infrastructure brings to each institution, that would put the economies of scale and the specialised knowledge that we provide in danger.
There has never been a more important time for institutions to think about their use of technology. A new dialogue is needed at the highest level of each and every university to determine how the digital needs of their institution will be met, both in the immediate future and in the longer term.
We have a great opportunity in the years ahead to make the most of new developments in technology. If the UK is to cement its competitive advantage in higher and further education, we need to help universities tackle the new challenges head on."
Listen to Martyn Harrow discussing the HEPI report with Times Higher Education reporter Chris Parr.