Jisc licensing service to stop ‘unfair’ publisher agreements

Universities may be paying over the odds for international students to access journals, databases and e-books

A new transnational education (TNE) licensing service will stop unfair agreements with publishers, Jisc says.

University libraries agree separate licensing agreements with online publishers to guarantee students access to journals, databases and e-books, but this system, Jisc says, has created “confusion and inconsistency”.

The new centralised licensing service run by Jisc aims to remove the need for universities to broker separate content access agreements with publishers.

There is no shared language or single standardised process, and this is where confusion creeps in, often creating uncertainty and producing unpredictable, inconsistent and sometimes unfair outcomes – Greg Ince, Jisc

Wiley – one of the biggest publishers of academic journals – was the first to sign up to the new agreement, which will help universities save money.

The new service was only made possible with data on TNE students and subscriptions privately licensed by Jisc from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). The newly supplied information means, for the first time, Jisc can compare costs.


Read more: Jisc to create guidelines on using data to improve student wellbeing


On the launch of the new service, Greg Ince, TNE licensing manager at Jisc, wrote in his blog: “Currently, library services at UK HEIs are trying hard to comply with publisher’s licensing agreements when offering content access to TNE students. However, there is no shared language or single standardised process, and this is where confusion creeps in, often creating uncertainty and producing unpredictable, inconsistent and sometimes unfair outcomes.

“With the number of HEIs delivering UK education overseas growing, universities face a challenge. Negotiating directly with publishers for library resource access for students and support staff located abroad is a time-consuming and confusing process, often with disproportionate financial consequences with regard to the typically small numbers of students involved.”

The new TNE licensing service will also help universities broker agreements for students who study overseas and may be more closely affiliated with an international provider.


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