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|Formation||1 April 1993|
|Purpose||To enable people in higher education, further education and skills in the UK to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity|
|Dr Paul Feldman|
|Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)|
Jisc is a United Kingdom not-for-profit company whose role is to support institutions of higher education and research, including post-16 education. It provides network and IT services, digital resources, relevant advice, and procurement consulting, while researching and developing new information technologies and modes of working. Jisc is funded by a combination of the UK further and higher education funding bodies, and individual higher education institutions.
The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) was established on 1 April 1993 under the terms of letters of guidance from the Secretaries of State to the newly established Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales, inviting them to establish a Joint Committee to deal with networking and specialist information services. JISC was to provide national vision and leadership for the benefit of the entire Higher Education sector. The organisation inherited the functions of the Information Systems Committee (ISC) and the Computer Board, both of which had served universities. An initial challenge was to support a much larger community of institutions, including ex-polytechnics and higher education colleges. The new committee was initially supported by four sub-committees, covering Networking; Awareness, Liaison and Training; Electronic Information; and Technology Applications.
In 1995, the Northern Ireland Department of Education became a full partner in JISC. The organisation expanded again in 1999 when the further education funding bodies became funding partners. This expansion prompted a restructuring and a new set of committees:
- JISC Committee for Authentication and Security (JCAS) November 1999 – January 2002. The work of this committee was taken over by JCN2 and JCIE3.
- JISC Committee for Electronic Information (JCEI) November 1999 – January 2002. The work of this committee was taken over by JCIE3 and JCCS4.
- JISC Committee for Integrated Environments for Learners (JCIEL) November 1999 – January 2002. The work of this committee was taken over by JCLT5.
- JISC Committee for Awareness, Liaison and Training (JCALT) The work of this committee was taken over by JOS6.
- JISC Committee on Networking (JCN2).
The expansion also raised wider concerns about JISC's governance, and Professor Sir Brian Follett was appointed to carry out an independent enquiry. His report, published in November 2000, concluded that "JISC is perceived as a UK success story, providing a network of world-class standard and a range of excellent services. Importantly, it evolves continuously and is an excellent example of collaboration between the community and the funding bodies". However, Follett made various recommendations for reform, most of which were accepted by the funding bodies.
A new structure was therefore put in place from December 2001, consisting of a JISC Board, advised by a steering committee made up of senior officers from each funding body. Six sub-committees fell under two main heads: strategy and policy committees, which aimed to ensure that the needs of specific communities were met (in the fields of research, learning and teaching, and management); and functional committees, concentrating on specific areas of work (networking, information environment, and content acquisition).
In January 2005, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into full effect, giving the public a general right to access all types of recorded information held by public bodies. JISC took an important lead in raising the Act's profile in the academic community and published its own FOI Publication Scheme.
In the spring of 2005, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) announced a reduction in its funding contribution to JISC. The LSC and JISC Executive negotiated a package of services that the LSC would continue to contribute towards in the future.
Also in 2005, a number of strategies and policies for UK Higher and Further Education were published, reaffirming the importance of ICT: JISC was seen as taking an important role in supporting and implementing these strategies.
In the same year, JISC signed agreements with several international partners:
- SURF Foundation in the Netherlands, cementing the considerable areas of co-operation between the two organisations;
- Australian Department for Education, Science and Training (DEST) supporting the e-Framework initiative which aims to develop a service-oriented approach to the development and integration of IT systems;
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany), Denmark's Electronic Research Library (DEFF) and SURF to create the Knowledge exchange which aims to increase the return on investment by the individual organisations in ICT infrastructure, services and projects.
Under the Government Spending Review 2004, JISC was awarded additional funding of £81 million for the period April 2006 to March 2009, and was able to launch a range of new programmes to support the work of the higher education and research community. Funding for SuperJANET5 was provided by all JISC's funding partners. Other activities were funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Wales.
A review of JISC's work, commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Alan Wilson, was published in February 2011. One of the principal findings of the review was that there is no comparable body to JISC within the UK, and internationally its reputation is outstanding as a strategic leader and partner. The Review concluded that, "JISC is an invaluable national resource which has evolved in response to increasing demands over 20 years". However, the Review also recommended that, due to the breadth and complexity of JISC's activity, its structure, processes, projects, programmes and governance need to be simplified and reshaped: "[i]n an era of financial constraint, it is necessary to refocus activities around clearer priorities, and to ensure JISC operates with a sustainable financial model".
In 2012 JISC became an independent not-for-profit charity funded mainly by the government and universities. At this point it renamed itself Jisc.
In 2019 Jisc merged with Eduserv, another charity promoting IT in the public sector and in charities. The combined entity continues to be named Jisc, and is based at Eduserv's Bristol headquarters.
Services offered by Jisc include:
- Providing UK universities and colleges with shared digital infrastructure and services, such as the JANET network
- Operating shared digital infrastructure and services, including eduroam UK (wireless access across different institutions), Library Hub, The Archives Hub (a catalogue of the collections of academic and other institutions), Sherpa (tools for checking permissions around Open Access), Learner Analytics and authentication systems (Open Athens and the UK Federation)
- Negotiating sector-wide deals, such as the Jisc Collections licenses for academic journals as well as deals with IT vendors and commercial publishers
- Advice on digital technology for education and research.
Ronald Urwick Cooke, then recently retired as Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, was appointed Chair of JISC in 2004, and served until 2008. He was succeeded by Timothy O'Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, who was appointed with effect from 1 January 2009. Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford served as Chair until 2015 when he was replaced by David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich.
Since 2015, the Chief Executive has been Paul Feldman.
- "Appointment of new Jisc chief executive". Jisc. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- "Company and charity details". Jisc. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- "How we are funded". Jisc. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- HEFCE. Feb 2011. Review of the Joint Information Systems Committee Accessed: 31 March 2012
- Charity Commission. Jisc, registered charity no. 1149740.
- Trendall, Sam (12 December 2018). "Eduserv to merge with Jisc". PublicTechnology.net. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
- "Jisc and HECSU Prospects announce merger". Jisc. 1 May 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
- Burke, Jude (6 March 2018). "Jisc cuts leave colleges paying a high price for essential IT services". FE Week. Retrieved 3 September 2020.