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Shared Services 

The HEFCE Shared Services Advisory Group has now been disbanded. However, shared services continues to be high on both the Government's and HEFCE's agenda with the announcement that a Univerisities Modernisation Fund of £20M has been provided to assist the sector in developing such services. It is anticipated that focus for the Fund will be on three areas: e-procurement; data centres; and shared adminstrative systems.

There have already been a number of studies focusing on data centres. One initiative based around Salford, Leicester and Derby reaffirmed that there is benefit in moving to a shared service provision. The group carried out a survey to assess the appetite for shared data centres; the results from that survey are available here.

The feasibility studies commissioned by HEFCE have now completed with mixed results. It is clear that, although savings may be achieved by small scale collaborations, it makes sense to focus on those areas where scalable and perhaps national services could be delivered. Two studies in the IT area have proved to be particularly successful. The shared out of hours student IT support service based at Northumbria University has evolved into a full service. The shared network security service piloted by the East Midlands MAN is also now available to other institutions across the sector. The final project report on the pilot is available on the HEFCE website. The Scottish IT Directors organisation HEIDS has been undertaking a feasibility study into the greater adoption of IT shared services in Scotland. The report of the study is now available on the HEIDS website.

A review highlighting more than 100 different examples of shared services and cloud computing within the HE sector globally has been carried out under the JISC Flexible Service Delivery strand of activity. The report includes a number of case studies which will assist UK FE and HE institutions to formulate their IT strategies and plans in these areas, and is available on the JISC website.

One of the barriers to the adoption of shared services has been the fact that such services have attracted VAT. HM Treasury have recognised this and are currently consulting on the possibility of removing VAT on non-profit making shared services. UCISA will be responding to that survey in due course. 

2 August 2011

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