The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) has published its Review of JISC today and there is a JISC webpage and FAQ available with the consultation on the review and its recommendations and findings.

The independent review was chaired by Professor Sir Alan Wilson and carried out over a four month period. It concludes that “JISC is an invaluable national resource which has evolved in response to increasing demands over 20 years”.

Alongside the praise of JISC and its achievements, major changes are proposed. Sections in the review that caught my eye (a very subjective selection) were as follows:

“Research and development activity should focus on horizon-scanning and thought leadership”

“Services and projects should be rationalised, with a view to significantly reducing their number”

“JISC should be funded through a combination of grants and subscriptions/user charges”

“It should become a separate legal entity and the implications of this for the four companies should be reviewed”
(all from Para 5 Recommendations)

“Proven best practice may be of greater benefit to the sector in an era of resource constraint than widespread R&D whose payback may be uncertain” (from Para 36)

“JISC’s promotion of the open agenda (open access, open resources, open source and open standards) is more controversial. This area alone is addressed by 24 programmes, 119 projects and five services.A number of institutions are enthusiastic about this, but perceive an anti-publisher bias and note the importance of working in partnership with the successful UK publishing industry. Publishers find the JISC stance problematic.” (Para 48)

“JISC should offer sector leadership through “routes to best practice”, wherever such practice resides…This function might be described as the “JISC Demonstrator Lab”…Research and development activity should focus on horizon-scanning and thought leadership – through a “JISC Futures Lab”. This would include a small number of research activities, where this is appropriate…Services and projects should be rationalised, with a view to significantly reducing their number – based on clear criteria such as: size, impact, value for money from sharing services, and the possibility of commercial or other alternatives…” (from para 77)

“In consolidating the provision of services, particular attention should be paid to the possibility of reducing geographical dispersion and improving efficiency.” (para 84)

“In the current financial climate it may not be possible to continue to fund JISC activities on their present scale. In the opinion of the Review Group, it is reasonable to expect the above recommendations to deliver substantial savings in overall costs. This should be achieved through new governance arrangements, a simpler structure, the review and consolidation of services, and across JANET (UK), JISC Collections and JISC Advance.” (para 85)

There is a JISCPress version of the HEFCE Review of JISC. It enables you to comment on the document at the paragraph level, and to both see and respond to other users’ comments. You can also add and see comments on the JISC review webpage and read a blog entry by Malcolm Read on the review.