Cut UK academic publishing fees by 25 per cent, urge universities

‘Unprecedented’ financial pressure on university budgets should result in reduced subscription charges, says UUK-Jisc group

June 17, 2020

Fees paid to major academic publishers should be cut by 25 per cent in light of the severe financial consequences faced by institutions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, a Universities UK group has recommended.

In a joint letter published on 17 June, the UUK-Jisc content negotiation strategy group called on leading publishers to recognise the “extraordinary pressure on budgets, which are already seeing cuts of up to 40 per cent at some universities”.

“Tough decisions will need to be made and cancellations [of publishing agreements] at some institutions are a reality,” says the letter, which was signed by Stephen Decent, who chairs the UUK-Jisc negotiation group.

That group, which held its first meeting in February, was initially set up to negotiate new publishing agreements in keeping with open access guidelines recently announced by UK Research and Innovation.

Professor Decent, who is provost and deputy vice-chancellor at Manchester Metropolitan University, explained that the recommended cuts were necessary because the “depth of the financial challenge facing universities and their libraries is unprecedented”.

In March, UUK warned that its institutions expected a collective loss of £790 million for the 2019-20 academic year alone, given lost income from accommodation, catering and conferencing. The expected collapse of international fee income in 2020-21, worth £6.9 billion annually, would also place a severe strain on institutional finances, it added.

On the issue of library budgets, Professor Decent said the situation was exacerbated by the need to “enhance the range of content available online to students, researchers and staff”, which “places extraordinary pressure on budgets”.

With universities focusing on online teaching delivery in September, institutions were “examining what digital content they can afford to maintain access to against the budgetary efficiencies they will need to deliver”, said Professor Decent.

In the letter, the group urges publishers to work with Jisc to implement discounts and measures to provide flexible pricing that offer institutions different options.

“Our collaborative effort should result in the ability to reduce expenditure without disproportionate loss of content, especially now that many universities will be reviewing the balance of budgets between supporting digital learning and supporting research,” said Professor Decent.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles