Not-for-profit technology companies Jisc and Eduserv have announced they will merge in the new year.
Jisc has a portfolio of more than 100 products and services for colleges and universities, including the national research and education network Janet and cybersecurity products. It has a staff of more than 620.
Eduserv has 100 Bristol-based employees and focuses on digital transformation, identity and access management, licensing and cloud solutions for local government, public bodies, healthcare, charities, higher education and emergency services.
The two will begin operating as one from 1 January 2019, but stress that existing staff and services will be retained, and they will keep their individual identities and websites after the merger date. In time, however, the new entity will be brought together under the Jisc brand.
'Exciting step forward'
Jisc’s chief executive Paul Feldman said this was “an exciting step forward in how we support and enable the education and wider public sector, while taking advantage of the technologies driving Industry 4.0. Together, Jisc and Eduserv will have greater scope to co-create innovative products and services to meet the needs and expectations of students and citizens, without duplication of effort, time and money.”
He added: “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. This merger will also allow us to help lifelong learning and research be the best it can be.”
Eduserv chief executive Jude Sheeran, who will take up a position as trustee on the Jisc board from January, said: “In a truly digital age, it is vital for the UK that a not-for-profit, socially driven technology player of scale emerges. From our roots in education to our more recent work with government and charities, our mission has always been to enable organisations to put digital technology to work for the benefit of society.”
'Lower cost' technology
“The opportunity to do exactly that is greater today than it has ever been and, as a combined entity, we believe that we can have a substantially greater impact and help develop the UK’s standing as a true powerhouse of digital technology. This merger will give the public and third sectors access to more, better and potentially lower cost technology services and digital knowledge transfer at scale, as well as a strong, ‘top-table’ advocate for digital progression.”
Jisc is currently funded by FE and HE bodies covering the UK and the devolved nations. These include: the Office for Students, UK Research and Innovation/Research England, the Department for Education, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Welsh government, and Northern Ireland's Department for the Economy.
English colleges currently have their Jisc subscription covered by the government. However, in March, Mr Feldman wrote to colleges, saying the Department for Education planned to cut Jisc’s funding from August 2019, and colleges would from this point have to pay a subscription fee to access its services.