How JISC supports innovation in research and education

JISC has been inspiring innovation in the UK research and education for over 25 years and is now working on a new strategy for the future.

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JISC - the early years

JISC has existed for over 25 years.  Its early roots came from an idea by researchers in the early days of network technology that it would make sense to try to connect up all the UK's universities with one high performance, reliable network.  At the start, a limited number of universities were connected to the network (JANET), but gradually others joined in with the experiment. After a while, people in the UK government who had real foresight decided that it would be to the UK's competitive advantage to have a UK-wide network system in place, that would keep at the forefront of networking technologies and provide assured access for research institutions. Thus was the Joint Information Systems Committee born, with the core principles of collaboration, experimentation and quality of service.

Shared solutions for UK universities

As research into the use of ICT systems for business transactions, communication, information management grew, so the JISC grew.  Smart people in higher education and government realised that there was potential to build upon the successful UK network to look at other challenges that universities were trying to solve separately, and to put in place shared solutions. So one of the other early systems developed is 'JISCMail' - in its early days, a free bulletin board system that could be used by anyone in education to set up an email discussion group. JISCmail now hosts thousands of email discussion lists and is used by over 700,000 people each year.

Other early developments were the UK wide Access Management Federation, which started life in project form in about 1995, and is now used by about 3 million people each year, and the development of consortium purchasing agreements for e-journals, which is now a successful company in its own right, JISC Collections.

JISC has grown organically as the education sectors in the UK have become more interested in using ICT to support their students, teachers and researchers. JISC uses a wide range of different approaches to support the UK post-compulsory sector to make the most of the potential of ICT to provide an enhanced student experience, to support excellent research, to help education and research to be more effective, to save institutions money through collaboration and the provision of shared services - the JANET network and Access Management Federation being two successful examples among many.

More recent programmes including work in digital literacy, management of research data for the whole UK, and cloud computing experiments.

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