JISC 2003 Conference Report

Philip Pothen reports on Secretary of State Charles Clarke's view of the importance of ICT in the education sector and the role of the JISC in its implementation.

At the JISC 2003 Conference the Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, underlined the central role for ICT within the education sector.

Fig 1 Photo (28K): Charles Clarke delivers his keynote speech at 2003 JISC Conference

In the conference's keynote speech [1] , Charles Clarke said, "I'm passionate about the use of new technology in the classroom. It goes right through the education system from early years to higher education and helps boost standards. It can make a real difference to teaching and can engage and excite students of all ages."
Charles Clarke congratulated the JISC on its achievements [2], in particular its world-class high-speed network and the pioneering use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in learning and teaching. He went on to say that the JISC's key strength was its pivotal role in developing the use of ICT within the wider education sector, especially in the areas of lifelong learning and widening participation. He saw the JISC network as a very important vehicle through which the schools and further and higher education sectors could be brought closer together.

During his speech, Charles Clarke set out the following key areas for the JISC's future work:

  • Extending the network to all of the post-16 education sectors with particular attention to content
  • Developing the use of ICT to support learning and teaching at all levels of post-16 education
  • Ensuring that there is closer collaboration and networking between schools and further and higher education
  • Promoting research by:
    • encouraging international collaboration
    • providing better access to current research and its outputs
    • making best use of knowledge transfer and how universities can inform and guide theUK community and its economy
  • Encouraging international relationships in a range of different areas, particularly in distance learning, which if used properly could make a real difference to third world economies

Fig 2 Photo (30K): Professor Maxwell Irvine, Chair of JISC with Rt Hon Charles

Professor Maxwell Irvine, Chair of JISC with Rt Hon Charles
Clarke, MP and Dr Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary

JISC's framework currently supports the government's ICT priorities through its main activities:

  • Funding the SuperJANET network, which provides secure and reliable broadband connections to all UK further and higher education institutions
  • Making available the largest national educational online collection in the world
  • Funding a range of support and advice services which give further and higher education access to the guidance they need in all aspects of the provision of ICT
  • Funding a range of 'production' services hand-picked for their quality and for their use in learning and teaching.
  • Spearheading initiatives of wider cultural concern such as those in the field of digital preservation
  • Funding hundreds of development projects, which work at the leading edge of the technical possibilities of the use of ICT in learning, teaching and research

However, there is still much work to be done in promoting the use of ICT and as Charles Clarke has taken personal responsibility for ICT within the government, it will be a key priority area for the JISC and the education sector as a whole. The JISC's experience over ten years, as well as its commitment to innovation and expertise, will ensure that it plays its part in meeting the challenges of the future and remains responsive to the changing needs of the post-16 education sector.


  1. Text of Charles Clarke's speech http://www.dfes.gov.uk/speeches/search_detail.cfm?ID=64
  2. JISC press release http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=jisc_conf_pr

Author Details

Dr Philip Pothen
Communications Manager
JISC Executive

Email: philip.pothen@kcl.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/

Date published: 
Wednesday, 30 April 2003
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