Regarding the changes to Jisc funding for FE colleges, a Jisc spokesperson said:
“The Department for Education has confirmed that it intends to change how Jisc is funded for general further education colleges within the sector. Having already experienced significant funding cuts over the past five years, and in order to continue to deliver a world-class digital offer to our colleges and Further Education providers in England, we will be introducing a subcription from August 2019.
“DfE will continue to to fund a proportion of of our services for our members, who have told us that our unique Janet network, protection from cyber attacks and e-books have transformed digital teaching and learning for their students. We are fully committed to working with our members, DfE and the Association Of Colleges to ensure that they get even more value from Jisc services as we move toward subscription.”
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:
“We are disappointed with the decision by DfE to cut the funding to Jisc which supports the college services. Jisc has long been a vital part of the national infrastructure – and remains at the heart of the sector’s response to the fourth industrial revolution, leading on digital infrastructure, innovation and cyber security and ensuring students get the best possible digital services and support.
"The DfE decision was made in the last Spending Review and will result in the introduction of subscription fees for colleges to access services. DfE will still heavily subsidise those services however, most colleges may have to pay up to £20k, with large multi-site colleges having to find £50k and large college groups, over £100k. Though HE institutions have paid similar fees for the last three years, we made the case to DfE that universities have a much higher funding rate per student, have historically been able to achieve significant surpluses and so are able to better mitigate increased costs. Unfortunately, that case resulted only in a one-year delay in implementing the new fees which will begin from August 2019.
"College budgets have been hit harder than any other part of the education system over the last 8 years and we continue to fight for fair funding for colleges and for college students. This new cost for an essential service will be a real struggle for many colleges on top of other rising costs over recent years.
"We are working closely with Jisc and the department to understand the nature and impact of these fees, before they are introduced in August 2019, to ensure the best possible outcome for colleges.”
Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc, has written an open letter to the FE sector to explain and set out the changes:
Changes to our 2019/2020 further education grant funding
This is the type of message that no leader wants to share and comes at a time when both Jisc and its members face significant financial and political challenges. As an organisation, Jisc works hard to provide world leading services that enable its members to operate at the forefront of digital enablement.
As you will know, Jisc is funded by all education funding councils across the UK. To date, the Department for Education (DfE) and its predecessors have fully funded Jisc to deliver its core portfolio including the world-leading Janet network, full protection from cybersecurity and e-books into general FE colleges, independent specialist colleges and sixth form colleges.
Introduction of an FE subscription
From August 2019 this is going to change. As a consequence of the comprehensive spending review DfE have confirmed their intention to change how they intend to fund Jisc which will involve a significant funding reduction. The department has however, also confirmed it will continue to fund a proportion of Jisc's work for you. This means we need to introduce a subscription for our general FE college members in England to enable all of our critical services, including the Janet network and all of the cyber security benefits to be retained.
The decision to introduce the mixed funding model has been requested by DfE - they feel it will mean members continue to hold us to account, to contribute actively to our work and make sure we continue to provide best value. This change applies only to general further education colleges and providers in England. Our costs will continue to be fully covered by the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’re waiting to hear more on DfE funding for sixth form colleges and sixth form colleges which have converted to academies and we are working with the Sixth Form Colleges Association on this. We’re also waiting to hear more on DfE funding for independent specialist colleges.
This isn't new territory for Jisc - since August 2012 our higher education members across the UK have paid a membership subscription to Jisc. This was a result of decisions from our HE funders to move Jisc to a mixed funding model of grant funding and subscription. This is now where we are with our FE members. We welcome DfE's acknowledgement that colleges derive a great deal of benefit from Jisc services and that we have made real progress in improving our offer to the sector. We are committed to be closer and better aligned to serving you and the value you gain from our services.
Working with AoC - the Association of Colleges
Whilst this is unwelcome news - representing a further cut to the overall FE budget - there is always opportunity in adversity. Jisc has worked with the AoC both to evidence the positive impact Jisc makes for the FE sector, as well as the adverse effect any funding cut would have to show the impact of such a decision to DfE. DfE has asked that we continue to work together with you our members to deliver this mixed funding model so that we are able to retain the services you need.
What this means for you
We are still in discussions with DfE over our funding for 19/20, however based on what we currently know, we expect that the subscription for a medium single site college £15k, a large multi-site college £50k and for a large college group, over £100k. We expect the vast majority of colleges will be less than £20k. We do expect that the level of funding in 19/20 is indicative of the rest of the parliament.
FE subscription offer
You tell us that our services make a difference. Through recent engagement you have told us that you greatly value our network, our cyber security offers, our digital content and our help and support. We will use the opportunity of a mixed funding model to ensure we continue to innovate for your evolving needs, building on those core strengths. You've told us about those Jisc services you find particularly valuable, for example:
- Very high-quality network connectivity through the Janet network
- Inbuilt cyber-security protection
- Free e-books
Due to a fundamental shift in our funding model, over a five year period, the Government has reduced our budget by more than £10m. DfE has asked us to work with them, AoC and individual colleges on introducing a subscription from August 2019.
The mixed funding model means that DfE will continue to fund a significant proportion of the FE services but colleges that continue to use the Jisc service will pay a subscription. To minimise the subscription as much as possible Jisc is absorbing more than £4m of income reduction.
We ask that you now work with us constructively to safeguard the value and benefit of Jisc as a shared service, and that we continue to work together to ensure that our organisations, our staff, and most critically our learners have the digital skills required to compete in the global economy. We also ask for a little patience while we work with DfE to fully understand the funding settlement for 2019-20.
Our account managers are available and will be looking to arrange time with you after Easter to help explain the membership subscription and help you get the most out of your services. Our intention is to hold regional conversations and webinars to help explain and we will provide more details on that in due course. You can find your account manager here should you wish to contact them. Our FE service catalogue has information on all the services available.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, Jisc