Digital team deleted as Jisc funding ends

May 9, 2013

A university-based centre of expertise that advises on digital infrastructure, information policy and data management across the sector has made two-thirds of its staff redundant after cuts to its funding.

Ukoln, formerly known as the United Kingdom Office for Library and Information Networking, has made 16 of its 24 University of Bath-based staff redundant after the cessation of a £622,000 annual grant from the higher education technology body Jisc.

The grant had been used to fund the Ukoln Innovation Support Centre at Bath, which advised the higher education community on trends in the development and adoption of relevant technologies.

Brian Kelly, who currently holds the post of UK Web Focus at Ukoln, said he is to lose his job after 16 years of employment at the centre.

He said the cuts had “decimated” the organisation, and that it was a “sad day” when he received his redundancy letter.

“We all understand the difficulties we are in at the moment. However, I worry that the decision to cut funding has been made purely on financial considerations, and has not been informed by any considerations for the value we have provided, and the need to continue support for innovation,” Mr Kelly said.

Liz Lyon, the director of Ukoln, said that she was working with Bath to find additional sources of funding in order to retain staff and to seek redeployments.

“Ukoln is currently facing a difficult period of significant change resulting from the recent decision by Jisc to cease core funding,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Jisc said that the decision to discontinue the funding, a move that was announced in December last year, had been made “in light of the current financial situation facing us, and the UK education sector”.

“This decision is no reflection on the excellent work of Ukoln and its staff over the years, which Jisc and the communities we serve have very much valued and appreciated,” she added.

The Ukoln Informatics Research Group, which carries out research into digital information management, will continue at Bath, albeit with a smaller group of experts.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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