Jisc, UK higher education’s main technology body, has announced that it is merging with public sector digital provider Eduserv.
The merger, which will happen on 1 January 2019, will create a public sector “powerhouse” of technology expertise, according to a statement from Jisc.
Eduserv is a not-for-profit registered charity that specialises in digital transformation in local government, public bodies, healthcare, charities, higher education and emergency services.
Jisc said that the newly created organisation would give subscribing organisations access to a greater range of services, and have greater clout with government and more collective buying power when negotiating deals.
Paul Feldman, Jisc’s chief executive, who will lead the new organisation, described the merger as an “exciting step forward” that would allow the organisations to create products and services “without duplication of effort, time and money”.
“As a bigger social enterprise organisation, we can invest our income into developing digital services and products that empower colleges, universities and research centres to provide students with an outstanding education experience that will set them up for the needs of the modern workplace,” Dr Feldman said.
Jisc operates the UK’s national research and education network, Janet, and has a staff of more than 620. Around a third of these are based in Bristol, where Eduserv has 100 employees.
Jisc’s latest financial statements – for 2016-17 – show that it made a loss of £35,000 that year, after posting a £5.9 million shortfall the previous year.
Jisc is funded by the UK’s education funding bodies, including the Department for Education, as well as subscriptions from higher education institutions and, from next year, further education colleges.
Earlier this year, the DfE announced that it was cutting the funding towards Jisc’s support for colleges by more than £10 million. To minimise the subscription fees to colleges, Jisc announced that it would be absorbing more than £4 million of income reduction.
At the time Mr Feldman said that both Jisc and its members faced “significant financial and political challenges”.