The Jisc family has been joined by well-known organizations and services such as Eduserv, OpenAthens, Chest, Higher Education Careers Service Unit, Prospects, Hedd and, most recently, in October 2022, the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
This greatly expanded Jisc’s remit and more than doubled our staff; all of this was done while we responded to the explosion in digital technology use that the pandemic had set off.
So we’ve been busy! So busy that I don’t think Jisc has properly explained the benefits of this consolidation.
All of the mergers, apart from Eduserv, followed the government-commissioned Bell review in 2017, which recommended that the UK’s myriad higher education agencies merge to bring efficiencies and benefits to the sector.
Our mergers have created a much larger pool of expertise and resources. Jisc is now able to provide its members with a single point of contact for a much greater range of technical services and support functions.
The National Network for Research and Education, Janet, will always be at the heart of what we do. The merger expanded Jisc’s other key “original” functions, including cyber security, digital resources, infrastructure, licensing, advice and guidance, and collective bargaining.
We also have innovation specialists who explore how new technologies such as artificial intelligence can be used to benefit both staff and students.
When edtech non-profit Eduserv joined Jisc in 2019, it added the OpenAthens single sign-on service, the Chest software licensing service and a range of cloud services to the Jisc portfolio.
A merger with HECSU followed two years later, creating a new student services arm. The move has enriched Jisc’s offering to HE members through the Prospects service, a digital careers information and advice service, as well as specialist labor market data and degree verification.
Student outcomes and employability are now central to Jisc’s strategy. This means HE members benefit from access to a range of world-class products and services, such as the Graduate Recruitment Platform.
The merger with Jisc has enabled Prospects to maintain its charitable aim of offering free tools that support students and graduates on their professional journey.
“The Hedd fraud operation closed almost 90 fake institutions.
This has also allowed the Hedd degree fraud operation to continue, which has shut down almost 90 bogus institutions and continues to protect the reputation of the UK degree and the investment made by genuine students.
Prospects’ Hedd qualification verification services can also save universities money in terms of staff time, while data and analytics tools improve understanding of students’ career and employment choices.
HESA was folded into Jisc for the last time after we welcomed HESA’s experienced data analytics team in 2019. All 171 of HESA’s remaining staff joined us in October 2022 and we have created a new Directorate for Data Collection and Statistics, led by former HESA chief executive Rob Phillpotts.
The merger of Jisc and HESA creates a single organization capable of delivering on the industry’s growing data and digital needs. Following consultation with the sector and in agreement with the Department for Education, HESA’s legal status as authorized data subject in the sector for England has been transferred to Jisc. This means that responsibility for the collection and publication of statutory data for all UK higher education providers now rests with Jisc.
This merger took place at a time when the two organizations were already jointly delivering the Data Futures program. Data Futures will bring significant benefits to the HE sector’s use of data by collecting student data from HE providers twice a year; mid-term point, as well as at the end of the year starting with the 2024/25 academic year.
Jisc plans to build on the Data Futures program and further develop the use of data and the data services we offer.
From the beginning of 2023, Jisc is therefore in a strong position to develop and expand its offer for educational and research institutions.
About the author: Heidi Fraser-Krauss is the CEO of Jisc.
Jisc’s vision is for the UK to be a world leader in technology for education and research. It owns and operates the Janet superfast national research and education network with built-in cybersecurity protection. Jisc also provides technology solutions for members (colleges, universities and research centers) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating industry-wide deals, and provides advice and practical help on digital technologies. Jisc is funded by UK bodies and member institutions that fund higher and further education and research.
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