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My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 April 2013

The Official Letter Arrived Today

Redundancy letterI have just been given my redundancy letter – I was the first of many to receive a redundancy letter on what will be a very busy two days for the University of Bath’s HR department. After over 16 years at UKOLN (I started on 30 October 1996) my redundancy letter informs me that I will be leaving on 31 July 2013.

This is clearly a sad moment for myself and my colleagues at UKOLN. The decision to cease the core funding for UKOLN (and CETIS) – which was made in October 2012 but not unofficially announced until December – has had severe implications for us. At the start of 2013 there were 26 people employed in UKOLN but after 31 July, based on current funding estimates for the next financial year, there is likely to be funding for just 3.7 FTEs (although, due to people working part-time, there should be more individuals still based at UKOLN.

The definition of ‘decimate’ is: “to destroy a great number or proportion of [Example]: The population was decimated by a plague.” With cuts of the extent given above it would not be an exaggeration to say “UKOLN has been decimated by cuts” :-(

Sadly, it seems that there is a growing tendency in the sector to refuse to acknowledge bad news. Stephen Downes highlighted this just before Christmas:

Two vaguely worded announcements appeared today on the UKOLN and CETIS websites. As cited by Brian Kelly, “In response to the Wilson review of Jisc, the organisation has confirmed that it will only provide core funding to the UKOLN Innovation Support Centre, up to July 2013 but not beyond.” Same deal for CETIS. (Note that I changed Kelly’s headline, contrary to my usual practice, because the phrase “looking ahead” seems to deliberately obfuscate the content of the messages.)

There’s a danger in making bad news invisible that the value which the organisation has been provided in the past is ignored. It was pleased to See how Stephen (an acknowledged elearning expert from North America) concluded his post be describing how:

I know it’s another country and all that, but let me be clear that to my mind UKOLN and CETIS have been two of the most important organizations in the world of online learning, period, and that should their funding be discontinued it would be a significant loss to the field.

This contrasted starkly with the view from Jisc in response to a question about redundancies:

This is about reshaping our approach to deliver for our customers, organising what we need to do and then populating it with people who can do it reasonably well. I expect the vast majority of the roles and the posts that we need in the new organisation to be perfectly capable of being discharged by people who are in the existing Jisc, and we are not in the business of disenfranchising the existing Jiscers, that’s not the purpose.

This feeling that we are being airbrushed from Jisc’s history was compounded recently when significant UKOLN intellectual work was labelled as being produced by Jisc in an article in a national journal.

The Change Curve

Change cycleShock, Anger

Yesterday myself and a number of my colleagues attended a half-day Change Management workshop. We were presented with a Change Curve, which is illustrated. Many of us identified with the emotions listed in the diagram, and I’m conscious that this post may well reflect the shape of the curve.

The anger is compounded by the significant role that JISC has had over an extended period. The Wilson Review (PDF format) noted such successes: ‘There is no comparable body within the UK, and internationally its reputation is outstanding as a strategic leader and partner.’

Such successes have been based, I feel, on JISC’s willingness to embrace open practices in its approaches to helping to develop and embed innovative practices across the sector. But such open practices are now vanishing, as the Jisc comms department is now controlling messages from the organisation as part of the process of “reshaping our approach to deliver for our customers“. Expect to see good news on Jisc communications channels!

The anger myself and colleagues feel is compounded when we look at how CETIS, our fellow JISC Innovation Support centre has responded to the loss of its core funding. I was aware that a group of CETIS staff had been given responsibility to look at new funding streams and at the recent CETIS conference Paul Hollins, CETIS Director summarised the various proposals for new funding which have been submitted. It looks at though the future for CETIS is much more secure than ours. Although the decision to seek additional funding in the area of informatics appears to have provided an additional year’s funding, this is only for a tiny proportion of staff and it is still unclear as to whether such a small department with limited funding is sustainable (especially when one considers that the director will probably continue on the same salary, despite the organisation downsizing from a peak of over 30 people to 4.7 FTEs. A goal of transforming UKOLN from a organisation with its roots in the Library world to a research informatics organisation may have been successful, but this was clearly a phyrric victory.

Acceptance .. and a Better Future?

But rather than looking back, myself and my colleagues who received redundancy letters today, need to look forward. This will not be along the lines of the official announcement:

While the Innovation Support Centre will cease operating after July 2013, UKOLN will continue and as the organisation enters a new phase, it is a time to reflect on what we’ve achieved.

but the future for the large numbers of colleagues who, from 1 August, will be facing an uncertain future, with bills to pay, families to support and mortgages and other loans which will need paying.

Fortunately many UKOLN staff do have expertise, skills and connections which will continue to be needed (back in December when I carried out the calculation there was about 240 years of staff expertise based on our time in UKOLN!). We have been providing training and support for staff and will continue to do this over the next three months. In a post on Importance of Social Media for Finding New Opportunities I summarised a session I facilitated in December on ways in which social media can be valuable in developing new contacts, strengthening existing relationships and helping to discuss new opportunities. I suspect there will be a number of further sessions along these lines in which we can help each other in moving towards the ‘better future’.

But over the next three months there will be still be work to be done. I am in the process of preparing content hosted on UKOLN Web sites so that is is ready for archiving. I should add that, in light of my concerns that UKOLN’s value to the sector over a period of over 30 years will be marginalised, ignored or appropriated by others, I am working with colleagues to ensure that their involvement across a wide range of activities is acknowledged and that significant intellectual content is not lost. This process involved ensuring that my colleagues deposit copies of their papers, articles, project reports, etc. in Opus, the University of Bath’s institutional repository (and, at the time of writing, there appear to be 424 items in the repository). In addition I have also suggested that authors embed their ORCID ID within papers, which might be particularly important for project reports if the author details are not clear.

But in addition since the large majority of UKOLN staff will be leaving, we will be exploring ways in which our expertise can continue to be harnessed, perhaps through consultancy work. Don’t write us off, yet!

For now, I think I may be allowed to conclude on a rather emotional day by summarising the Change Curve with the words used by Father Jack “Arse, feck, drink, women“. Anyone fancy joining me in the pub tonight? Then maybe be could go clubbing.

Note: A Storify archive of the tweets related to this story is now available.


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79 Responses to “My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today”

  1. gemstest said

    Sorry news. Will bring my club best wishes Ben

  2. Ian Hunter said

    A sad day indeed!

    While I’ve never been directly involved with UKOLN I’ve been aware of it (and have made plenty of use of JISC services) throughout my career in academic and corporate libraries. Good luck for the future. I hope you will still be speaking at conferences.

    Kind regards,

    Ian

  3. Shitty, that’s what it is. You’ve been so influential through this blog and associated work Brian, UK HE will be much the poorer for the closure of UKOLN.

  4. Alan said

    Hi Brian,
    I remember being with you on an SGML workshop at Rutherford in 1990 when we considered the role it could play in online information, and we were both users of the WWW (as it was called) in 1992 and early 1993 with the arrival of Mosaic – you in Leeds and I at Cranfield. You of all people embodied, guided and mentored huge numbers of people in the Web era, which was led by the university/research community. No one can take away the huge contribution you have made, and I want to thank you. I hope the crisis eventually turns into an opportunity.

    Alan

  5. Brian, I’ve followed your work for years and admired what you and UKOLN had achieved. I’m truly sorry this has happened. I trust you and your colleagues will find work in places more appreciative of your talents and effort.

  6. I’m with Father Jack on this. What DO JISC think they’re doing? I’m really sorry for all of you who are affected; I’m ashamed of JISC for forcing this without a bit more ameliorative action (eg project opportunities), and I’m sad for the sector which will lose a valuable resource, and much potential future valuable work.

    When we did the eLib Programme, the one thing that came clear to me again and again was that projects were useful, but we persistently lost the skills that were created in doing projects. In one sense that’s OK, as the skilled folk went off to do other things in the sector, carrying their skills with them. But it made subsequent projects poorer and the learning and outcomes less, as more ground had to be made up with new staff. UKOLN, CETIS and (dare I say it?) the DCC, with EDINA, MIMAS and whatever the Bath one was called, provided that reservoir of increasingly skilled staff that allowed major developments to be created and supported. It appears JISC want to throw that away and go backwards. Or maybe they want their “own” staff to do that stuff? (It’s a very different job from managing a programme!)

    I was last made redundant in 1975, on pretty generous terms by ICL when they closed down their Software Development Centre in Adelaide. At some point in that curve you describe, a group of us got together and had a go at forming a collective (the Systems Design Centre, or some such). We even got the formal documents drawn up. In the end it was a more risky option than other things that presented, so we didn’t go ahead, although some were successful in consulting. I made a pretty disastrous choice, that became the worst year in my working life, but managed to escape after a year into academic IT support. None of that was expected. I’m trying to say, the uptick in that curve will happen, for those with the skills and determination (and the necessary modicum of luck) to drive it.

    I know you guys have skills. I know you guys have determination. I wish you all the very best of luck (far more than a modicum, whatever that is!).

  7. Nicole Harris said

    Obviously these opinions are my own personal opinions and do not reflect the position of past or current employers BUT:

    I’m sorry but that nonsense management talk from JISC is nothing but offensive. I’ve seen no attempt to redeploy people in JISC services within other parts of JISC and where people have left the posts are simply not being filled. What we have seen is people in management positions taking the time to secure roles for themselves. This is made worse by the fact the JISC Collections and JANET have been allowed to continue to openly recruit without consideration of good people losing jobs in the community who are fit for the roles. The idea that is being done for the good of the customers is just an attempt to shift blame away.

    It is decimation, it is a ridiculous disregard of years of knowledge. It’s a diaspora, as Martin put it: http://blog.martinh.net/2013/03/a-tale-of-two-jiscs-reflections-on.html. It is rightly time to be angry, not sorry. It is rightly time to be vocal, not silent. It is most certainly time to say not in my name and I hope JISC’s ‘customers’ do exactly that.

  8. Charles Oppenheim said

    Yes, JISC is facing budget cuts thanks to the Government cutting funding to HEFCE, and some hard decisions have to be taken, but JISC has not handled this at all well. 30 years ago, when I was sacked, friends said “It’s a blessing in disguise”. My response was “It’s extremely well disguised.” I am still bitter about those events, but it did turn out OK for me in the end. I desperately hope that the same applies to my friends and colleagues at UKOLN.

  9. Anonymous Cowherd said

    @Chris Rusbridge
    The JISC/Jisc/JiSc (whatever) has forgotten Jimmy Durante’s golden rule: Be Nice to People on Your Way Up. You’ll Meet ‘Em On Your Way Down.

    You’ve put your finger on it when you suggest that they want their own staff to ‘do that stuff’. Insourcing is sometimes a useful tactic. When your role is being questioned, delete someone who’s doing something worthwhile and walk off wearing their shoes. Expect the JISC’s own implementation of Dev8D to appear shortly. Rank-and-file JISC staff are desperately trying to win some sort of PR war to individually secure futures for themselves, which ably explains the new-found talent for ‘appropriation’ of others’ work. Right now they’ll do anything for a press release. With their departure from university structure, the JISC are no longer guided or constrained by academic practice, but by PR considerations and individual hope of personal success in the new infrastructure.

    They aren’t concerned about the staff they dump. They believe that the service centres were full of easily replaceable janitorial staff and that they can appropriate the work without having to retain any of the staff. They feel that the universities that kindly went out of their way to work with them are owed nothing and should clear up their mess without comment. They expect affected staff to move on without comment, which is curious but probably relates to high staff turnover at the JISC. Many current JISC management staff have no commitment to innovation work or to the sector – you would be forgiven for thinking that some are overwhelmingly committed to themselves – and may honestly find it puzzling that others have bought in to the extent that they devoted over a decade of their lives into the sector. Certainly they have no respect for that at all.

    It all makes sense when you understand that they have successfully persuaded themselves that ‘anything that service centre staff can do, they can do better’. Although on the face of it this seems somewhat lunatic, it makes sense: check out the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  10. Ben Steeples said

    This is a huge loss to the HE sector. All of the UKOLN events I’ve attended have been incredibly well run and forward thinking; it’s always covered topics that have been relevant at the time, and never shied away from difficult or sensitive areas. I always came back with ideas that were inevitable, but light-years ahead of what others were thinking at the time.

    Everyone I’ve met from UKOLN has been wonderful. I hope that this is the start of new and better journeys for you all.

  11. Joss Winn said

    Thanks for this reminder of what is happening, Brian. I am sorry for you and everyone affected, but know that such sentiment doesn’t bring you work. Stay angry for a while longer. People need to see it.

  12. Sad to read this news Brian. I remember when I was carrying out the Lit Review for my PhD that your UKOLN blog was an invaluable resource. You were also very supportive when I wanted to learn more about web 2.0 (back in the day!) and start up my own blog. I hope to learn more from you and your work in the future. Thanks, Christine.

  13. I knew this was coming but it is still sad to have it confirmed.

    Thanks to you all for doing so much for the HE Web Management Community. I am sure you all have bright futures ahead of you but it this is a huge loss to HE and the University of Bath.

  14. Oh Brian, that’s so upsetting, both for all of you individually and also for the rest of us professionally in higher ed and libraries. I have been following the work of UKOLN pretty well from the beginning, not to mention JISC. I wish you and your colleagues speedy recovery finding something you love doing, and that allows your knowledge to be put to good use.

  15. Brian – eventually you can look back in the knowledge that you have made an immense impact.

  16. Vince said

    So sorry to hear this Brian. I have fond memories of working with UKOLN staff and still follow your blog. I hope you continue writing. All the best.

  17. Lawrence Jones said

    I’m gobsmacked, Brian. So shocked to hear this news. How can they make a guru redundant?

  18. Kevin Ashley said

    Brian – first, thanks for writing this in your always-open fashion and so promptly. (And thanks also to @paulwalk who’s been doing some of the same via his twitter account.) There’s lots I could say, but I’ll try to be selective.

    I don’t think the tendency to gloss over bad news, or to manage how it is communicated, is new. I made an observation on the UKOLN & CETIS announcements at the time (https://twitter.com/kevingashley/status/282082383765856256) but what struck me at the time was a sense of familiarity with events that I and colleagues faced at ULCC during funding cuts from the Computer Board in 1989 and 1990 which culminated in large staff losses and similar events in 1995, this time with funding from RCUK’s predecessor, ABRC. The same tendencies existed then both to manage what was communicated but also to ensure that the news was not seen to come from the funder but from those funded. Not all funding bodies behave in this way and neither do all institutions.

    One difference we faced then as the staff numbers were reduced to 1/6 of what they had been was a level of trust and support from our host institution, the University of London. The staff cuts would have been even greater had it not allowed us to run a deficit budget for a couple of years, confident that we would eventually find other funding. That trust was well-placed and essential, as without it the organisation would have been too small to be viable. Even so, entire areas of expertise were lost that we never managed to replace. I’m still grateful for that trust, though like Charles a level of bitterness about the news management remains.

    It’s unfortunate that the University of Bath hasn’t shown similar trust in the excellence of UKOLN. Unfortunately I think it has a track record in this regard and it will reduce the likelihood that someone will want to host anything similar there again. You can be angry with Jisc, its decision and the way it was made. But even without that, some anger or disappointment should be reserved for a University that isn’t able to take a small risk to hang on to something that could/should do a lot for its reputation.

    But enough of that. I’m very grateful that you & colleagues have been working publicly & privately to ensure that content and services at UKOLN aren’t simply going to disappear without warning. We depend on some of them at the DCC and it is allowing us to manage the change. Not everyone would think of others in this way at what is a very difficult time for yourselves. Thank you to all of your colleagues for that.

    I have every confidence that many of you will find your talents valued elsewhere. I know that some have already taken that leap. It will end up being good for them, but not so good for all of us as that expertise is dispersed. Consultancy isn’t a route that suits everyone but for those of you that take that course I think you’ll find the demand is there even in difficult times. For others I hope that right niche becomes apparent soon.

    Not sure ‘enjoy’ is the right verb to wish you for that time in the pub tonight. I’ll be raising a virtual glass to you all, though, and joining the melancholy.

  19. Two words: baby, bathwater.

    Not surprising, but so disappointing. However, I know you and your colleagues will bounce back. And the rest of us in the Jisc family, keep a close eye on the hand that holds the plug.

  20. Iain Middleton said

    Shocking and sad to hear, Brian. We’ve come a long way since HTML 101 but somebody’s clearly decided that all problems have been solved.

    Yes, it does make you want to go clubbing…

  21. Les Bell said

    Brian, met you at a couple of IWMWs and consider you a seminal thinker and an energetic instigator of new ideas as well as a great sword dancer. Shocked that you and your colleagues are now looking for work, but feel sure you will succeed in re-establishing yourselves.

  22. Zak Mensah said

    I know we met and spoke about it recently but once again thanks Brian and UKOLN for helping me and many others. In fact it may well be this blog that I first ever heard of JISC.

    See you very soon

  23. Scott Wilson said

    Thanks for writing this Brian. Not much I can add really except that I hope you and the other former UKOLNers can find a way to continue to do great stuff like IWMW, Ariadne, Web Focus and Dev8D.

  24. I would simply like to echo Alison and Roddy :

    Thanks to you all for doing so much for the HE Web Management Community. I am sure you all have bright futures ahead of you but it this is a huge loss to HE…

    …you have made an immense impact.

  25. Such a highly skilled team shouldn’t be disbanded in this way. I’m really sorry to learn that so many are being affected, and shocked to read that you are no longer even being acknowledged for your work.

    I will always remember my years at UKOLN with fondness and I wish you all the very best of luck with what comes next.

  26. Brian, you’re virtually the voice of UK HE! And what’s going to happen to IWMW? I can’t believe this is the last time we’ll see you dancing with rapper swords, extolling the many virtues of real ale and talking with breathless excitement about whatever the latest technical developments are.

    Good luck to you in whatever you do next.

  27. This is ridiculous.

    You’ve had an immense impact. I hope if you have to go into the private sector you get the respect you deserve. And I, too, am with Father Jack on this.

  28. Kate Robinson said

    I’m so sorry to see this, Brian. You’ll be missed, both home and away.

  29. Thanks for writing so openly and eloquently on this subject. The whole elearning community in the UK, and much beyond, owe you and UKOLN a huge debt of gratitude for all your work, which has proved a really important foundation for so much else. Hoping that your skills and knowledge are more highly valued in the future.

  30. Steve Lee said

    The trouble with clubs is the beer is crap. Good luck as you and others come up the other side of that curve.

  31. It’s been a very great privilege to work closely with colleagues from UKOLN over the years on projects, events and initiatives including IWMW, DevCSI, Dev8ed, the Repositories Research Team and the Repositories and Preservation Advisory Group. So many inspirational and forward thinking people have worked for UKOLN and have made such a huge contribution to higher education in the UK and internationally. These are difficult times for many, but I hope that you will find a way to keep doing what you do best, which is keeping the rest of us on our toes!

  32. I know the funders never care about this, but the impact of these groups has been far greater than just the UK. We in Canada have regularly looked for guidance at the paths you folks were blazing. This is truly sad and (as someone also currently on the dole) I truly commiserate. I do, however, look forward to seeing if you can create something new to rise from these ashes, as you are right, there is a lot of expertise and talent in this group. Take some time and take care, sincerely, Scott

  33. [...] 17 people have received redundancy notices following the withdrawal of JISC funding for their posts.  Most were shocked to find that the University pays only statutory redundancy pay, far less than the payments made at Bath Spa and some other universities.   UCU is contunuing to negotiate on behalf of members who are affected.   The redundancies have highlighted a number of concerns about the university’s approach to redundancy avoidance.   You can read more from one of the UKOLN staff here [...]

  34. Fleur said

    Can only repeat what others have already said, a sad day indeed. I missed this news while on maternity & would like to wish you all the best for the future & to thank you for being so welcoming & supportive when I first entered the educational arena

  35. John Heap said

    Agre with all the comments. UKOLN has opened doors which a lot of us have walked through. Now we have to find those doors ourselves.

  36. So sad for UKOLN and for you personally Brian. You’ve been part of my working life for a very long time. Really valued your observations and commentary on all things technology and education. You have made such a positive difference near and far. Really hope it’s not the last we hear of you. Good luck for the future.

  37. PeteJ said

    Hi Brian,

    This is very sad news.

    I’m thinking of all of you affected, and I hope things work out for you all.

  38. drguid said

    Sad news, but change is often good. My job went stale, now I’m living in China and having a tremendous time experiencing life in a Chinese University.

  39. Jonathan O'Donnell said

    I’m very sad to hear that, Brian. You have been a great inspiration to me. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  40. [...] my own and do not represent in any way the views of my employer. It was with sadness that I read Brian Kelly’s blog post yesterday about the demise in all but name of UKOLN. As a former member of the eLearning team at [...]

  41. ElaineS said

    Brian, I’m truly sorry to hear about this. Wishing you and all at UKOLN the very best for the future: http://wp.me/p5OwW-3e

  42. Andrew Booth said

    Brian

    I’m very sorry to hear about this. The comment about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing comes to mind.
    I remember you introducing Java to Jon Maber and myself at Leeds in the early ’90s.
    I hope you reach the ‘Better Future’ as quickly as possible.

  43. Joanna Blackburn said

    Brian, I am saddened to hear your news. I hope you and your colleagues find new opportunities very soon. Thank you for all your hard work through the years, especially on championing IWMW.

  44. Phil Cross said

    I’m shocked and very saddened to hear this, Brian. Having worked for ILRT at Bristol alongside UKOLN in many projects for more years than I care to remember, I know what a huge impact you have had on the HE library/IT sector and what dedication and enthusiasm you have always shown. It’s a sad world in which such dedication is rarely recognised by our employers.

  45. Steve Ryan said

    Brian,
    I can only echo the comments of others, a bad decision that will cause damage that will be with us for a long time. This loss of knowledge and expertise will weaken us all.

    Steve

  46. Mark Power said

    I think the overwhelming response to this post says it all, Brian. I hope all the good guys at ukoln move quickly on to lovely new things and that you can reshape a future for your web work…this site and IWMW, as they are greatly respected and kick ass.

    Now then…where’s that drink…?

  47. Brian, Good luck in whatever you decide to do, it’s a long time since DISinHE but I know just how you feel. Just for the record the curve it true, but it took me a long time to realise it. Ian

  48. Brian, thank you for all you’ve personally done to support me, the HE sector in general and the UCISA community in particular. Whilst Chair of SDG and then Chair of Exec, I called upon you on numerous occasions – and you never let me, or us, down. I loved the sessions we did at IWMW, being that strange beast, a Director that had his heart (and hopefully not his head) in the cloud.

    I wouldn’t have arrived at the views I had without having you to bounce ideas off. Joe and I often discussed your influence on our thinking and without doubt we would have found it much harder to develop some of that without the seminal work of yourself in both your WebFocus and professional learning support personas.

    All the best, keep in touch!

  49. I chaired the review of UKOLN and CETIS that got overtaken by the changes at JISC/Jisc. This was never in the plan. Not in my name!

    Alun

  50. ambrouk said

    I’d like to echo many of the comments here.

    I must have known you 14 years, Brian. IWMW is an important event/grouping, thanks to your and Marieke’s leadership and hard work. Ukoln’s other most important work in my eyes is DevCSI, from Paul and Mahendra. I think that has planted seeds for the future, like eLib did. IMHO your director could have done more to find other options like cetis and osswatch did.

    What makes me personally saddest about jisc losing its way is that the people now directing it didn’t listen hard enough to what a lot of us were telling them. Yes, the mix of ukoln, cetis, osswatch and other services with funded projects in institutions was messy. Yes, innovation programmes looked complex, especially to people not part of them. Yes, sometimes we didn’t arrive at simple conclusions that can be distilled into “how to”s and impact statements. Your posts and presentations articulate that complexity and flux better than anyone. In recent times the communications department at jisc didn’t tolerate that necessary messiness: but change, learning and innovation *are* messy. I fear jisc will lose its foresight, without the fertile mix of expertise and innovators in institutions. Management arrogance will benefit no-one, least of all its “customers”.

    I can’t see you dissappearing any time soon, Brian. The sack of potatoes and the lass o’gowrie wouldn’t be the same :-)

  51. Brian and others – my sympathy. I know what it feels like to be made redundant (for me after the Glaxo Wellcome merger) – there are feelings of being undervalued and disoriented. It took me a year to recover (the process itself was very drawn out).
    Until now I have always publicly praised JISC. I haven’t followed recent developments and have to revise – from what you all have written I wouldn’t be optimistic about JISC’s future. But the role of the modern information professional is expanding – current buzz is Open Data – and skilled people who know their way round will be in demand. I think a lot of University activities will end up migrating outside because they haven’t been good at running them themselves.
    So be optimistic, although be prepared to move into apparently new fields – they are developing.

  52. Mark Stiles said

    Very sad news Brian, and my best wishes go to you and your colleagues. I share everyone’s concerns about how the UKs great track record in innovation in the use of technology in HE can be sustained. Nevertheless the talents you all have is undeniable and I’m sure you will all be back!

  53. Grant Malcolm said

    Terribly sorry to hear this news Brian.

    I’ve followed with interest your work and that of your colleagues at UKOLN for more than a decade now, frequently citing your research and commentary in rationales for positive change within my own institution. Thank you all, but thank you Brian, in particular.

    I have particularly fond memories of curry and a pub crawl at IWMW 2004. Sorry to be missing the pub this time.

    All the very best to you and your colleagues.

    Grant @ uwa.edu.au

  54. Well, this sucks :( Also, what Chris (6) and Amber (50) said.

    If you make it Iowa way at some point, will stand you some deep fried butter on a stick and a pint or three from the local microbrewery. Same goes for Paul and the others from the Gang of Seventeen. Party (forever) on, @briankelly style…

  55. Sorry to hear this, I’ve been through redundancy and it’s horrible. Best wishes for finding something better.

  56. Kerry Blinco said

    Brian let me extend the sympathy of those of us down under as well. I have been a follower and admirer of your work and the work of UKOLN for many years, and was privileged to participate in some collaborations. The information profession without a well supported UKOLN is unimaginable….

  57. Jay Jay said

    Shocked and echoing sentiments above. I’m glad you posted this Brian. Your work is so valuable and been a huge influence to me and others. I hope we can have another bevvy in the near future!

  58. Lou McGill said

    have to agree with so many of the comments here Brian – such a loss to HE – wishing you and the team luck in finding new avenues so that the community can still benefit from all the knowledge and expertise that UKOLN has given us over the years

  59. I can only say that I am thankful that your sacrifice and our loss will at least preserve a small part of a banker’s bonus package.

    • Anonymous Cowherd said

      Would be nice if it were true, but it isn’t. Jisc have the money. They’re just spending it on something else.

      • Charles Oppenheim said

        But JISC has had a major funding cut. Could you supply the evidence for your claim?

      • Anonymous Cowherd said

        @Charles Oppenheim
        Feel free to tell it as it is…

      • Scott Wilson said

        The funding data is here:

        http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2013/201305/
        http://www.hefce.ac.uk/data/year/2012/201208/

      • Charles Oppenheim said

        The HEFCE statement says nothing about spending on JISC. HEFCE decided to cut its funding to JISC. I do not agree with that decision, but the decision was made. JISC in turn decided to cut its funding to UKOLN. You may or may not agree with that decision. The fact that HEFCE is spending substantial sums on Institutions in 2013/2014 is irrelevant to the situation. As I said before, it is JISC that doesn’t have the money!

      • Scott Wilson said

        Its on Tab 2 of the datasheet for 2013, and tab 3 of the datasheet for 2012 . HEFCE spending on Jisc core is down from £40.7m in 2012/2013 to £40.6m in 2013/2014. Capital spend is unchanged at £20m p.a. According to the 2013 funding guidance letter, Jisc is expected to reduce the income drawn from HEFCE over the following three years (2014/2015 FY to 2017/2018 FY) as other funding mechanisms (such as subscriptions) come on line to replace it.

      • Paul Walk said

        The assumption of funding cuts being the issue is an interesting aspect of this – I’ve heard that assumption stated elsewhere too.

    • Anonymous Cowherd said

      @Scott Wilson
      Indeed.

      @Paul Walk
      ‘There is no money left’, a typically pusillanimous bit of misdirection from the transitional set.

  60. U.K. Citizen said

    I am so sorry to hear the news Brian. I wish you the best and I’m sure better things are ahead.

  61. R Phillips said

    My sympathies Brian, in my role I often came across your writing, and I hope to in future when you take your expertise to another position, all I can offer is my best wishes, I’m sure UKOLN’s loss will be another institution’s gain.

  62. Over the years I have consistently turned to advice in the papers produced by or from colleagues from Cetis and UKOLN for open and impartial advice on systems and policies . The education sector will be poorer for this demise and more open to being the witlless prey of corporate snake oil sales people .

    You are all breathtakingly clever and doing all the right stuff there will be lots of opportunities in both the public and private sectors . The UK has been leading the world in this space I hope a research University who realises this picks you all up

  63. [...] My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today [...]

  64. Luke Taylor said

    Hi Brian, I can’t believe such an influential individual and organisation is being reduced to next to nothing. Thank you for all your help going back years. I hope to benefit from your wisdom for years to come.

  65. [...] My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today [...]

  66. I am really shocked and so sorry to hear this, Brian. We follow your work at JISC and UKOLN and for us, in Catalonia, it has been highly appreciated.

    I wish you the very best for the future.

  67. Tavis Reddick said

    Sorry to hear this, Brian, for all your raising and framing and formulating web issues, and stimulating debate. And when my colleagues didn’t believe that “metadata” was a real word, let alone a critical concept, where else would I point them but http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/metadata/ ?

  68. […] He also gave us a whistle-stop tour of the history of IWMW, from the first meeting at KCL in 1997 (before the name ‘IWMW’ was coined) through to 2013; it was interesting to see how the buzzwords and focus shifted: web strategy, e-business, web 2.0, APIs, video streaming… then from about 2009 onwards there were constant rumblings of “change”, “managing change”, “uncertainty” and similar concerns — and for UKOLN, of course, all that anxious uncertainty resolved into an awful reality earlier this year when Jisc cut the organisation’s funding and decimated its staff. […]

  69. […] My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today […]

  70. […] is my final complete week at UKOLN. As I described in a post entitled “My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today” the cessation of Jisc’s core funding means that myself and the majority of my […]

  71. […] My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today […]

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