Two exciting announcements from HEFCE in two days - yesterday the investment in cloud computing and shared services, today the report on their review of the JISC.
This review was commissioned in September 2010 and has been chaired by Sir Alan Wilson from UCL. The full report is available here, and can be summarised into some key points:
JISC has been very successful over a number of years - the provision of the network, JANET, was singled out, as it should be, and also the creation and collective procurement of electronic resources. These two services have been invaluable to the sector and have been critical to our delivery of high quality, innovative services.
But, (and there's always a but in a review), there were some criticisms, none of which came as a surprise to me at least. JISC is considered to be too broad, too complex, involved in too many things and there were questions raised about the impact of some of its activity. It governance arrangements, structure and processes also came in for similar criticism.
So, the main recommendations were that it should become more focused on a smaller number of activities with demonstrable impact and linked to the priorities of the sector. In addition, its structure should be simplified and clarified to become more efficient. Rather than sitting as part of HEFCE it will become a separate legal entity which will have implications for its existing four companies which includes JANET. Discussions will also be held to determine what funding structure will be put in place, which it is recommended will consist of a mixture of grants and subscriptions/user charges.
Will this see the end of the provision of a network funded largely by a topslice which we don't have to pay for at the point of use?
Consultation on how the recommendations will be implemented will start shortly.