RSCL8trs alligator, Jisc in a while crocodile

Graciano de Santana Soares, Jisc RSC London Manager

Graciano de Santana Soares, Jisc RSC London Regional Manager

This is the end, my friend

#RSCl8trs – on 4th December – will mark the departure of the Jisc RSC London from ULCC, our host institution for over 14 years. It will be an opportunity to re-live memories of the sector’s highlights and engagement with us.

In good RSC London fashion we will share your images, videos, or testimonials of our past activities online and at our offices when we will be saying goodbye to the past and welcome the future in whatever shape it comes.

There are many ways you can contribute, and you can start now, sharing one memory a day:

For many supporters and users of the Jisc RSCs across the UK, 2015 will bring important changes to the way they access their services and the way Jisc interacts with them. In fact those changes are well under way.

December 2014 will mark the end of the Jisc Regional Support Centres, at least in the current form, and the beginning of Jisc in the regions.  Although the new model is still being finalised, Jisc will bring the RSCs and services such as TechDis, Legal, InfoNet and Netskills in-house and restructure them.

With regards to the regional representation, there will be a reduction from 12 to six Jisc regions. Namely, Jisc North, Jisc Wales, Jisc London, and the combined regions of Jisc South and East; Jisc South West and Midlands; and Jisc Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Some of these regional amalgamations do present a challenge of accessibility, but Jisc will design systems that will make accessing Jisc support and expertise seamless whatever the location of a provider.

Though my focus for this piece is the end of the RSCs, I wanted to praise the way Jisc has undertaken the task of bringing together such disparate and successful groups of services that have given Jisc international recognition and the nationwide status of leading experts in technology in education.

I find it hard to imagine a future in which Jisc may fail to deliver on its vision of making the UK the most advanced nation in the world for technology in education and research.

Over the years I have seen a number of agencies come and go. Becta being the one with the greatest impact on agents driving the uptake of technology in education. Becta’s demise soon after the 2010 elections epitomised the then new government’s drive to reduce public spending and devolve decision making to schools. Jisc CEO Martyn Harrow’s report highlighting the savings achieved through a shared service such as Jisc should not be underestimated. Nor the danger of the scams that schools, colleges and universities can be exposed to when procuring IT, when the impartial support the RSCs were known for will no longer be available. The future of technology in the post-compulsory education has never been in better hands.

I grew up watching Ayrton Senna and his wondrous driving. As I write, Lewis Hamilton is a third place away from becoming world champion again. Nigel Mansell has said that the championship is his to lose. The future of technology for the UK envisaged by Jisc is the funders’ to lose.

But why should I be saying all this when the RSCs are coming to and end and I’ll be moving on? I guess that it is because as Regional Manager for the Jisc RSC London, I saw my team and colleagues across the regions strive to deliver to providers’ needs and wants.

We have sat in on providers’ strategy boards, held their hands when meeting with suppliers, reviewed their deployment of technology, sat in on interview panels to attract their best staff to lead on technology, mentored newly-appointed members of staff in colleges to expedite their understanding of the use of technology in the sector… the list goes on. Our drive was to help providers grow their use of technology and help the sector improve. How we achieved those aims took a myriad of shapes and forms due to the creativity of our team. Our targeted regional forums, popup events and our very own e-factor conferences are a few examples.

Providers have reported how quickly they have been able to align themselves to the changing technology-related demands of different governments. We saw the anxiety caused by the SFA’s 10% online request. Through the RSCs many senior leaders have come to understand the importance of embracing technology.

Having been through the process of change instigated by the Wilson Review from inside Jisc, I know that in a while, Jisc will be offering a lot more than the RSCs and the services combined, not necessarily in quantity, but in quality.

As Martyn said, “the digital future will be bigger than the digital past” and Jisc is getting ready for it. We at the RSC London believe that much of the digital future will be achieved thanks to the seeds we have planted in our 14 years of operation. My personal vision is that there should not be a single place where learners are studying in the UK where they cannot access the technology and online resources they need to succeed, be it a university or a community centre. I truly believe that Jisc has everything it takes to achieve that vision.

On 4th December 2014

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Graciano de Santana Soares
Regional Manager, JISC RSC London