UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Jul 2007

When I wrote my post on Facebook WILL Die I never expected to read a headline article on the front page of the Guardian which gave a Secret List of Universities Facing Collapse. But that was the headline of Saturday’s Guardian (7 July 2007).

The article listed almost 50 institutions which are “at risk of financial failure” – although HEFCE responded by saying that the information was out-of-date and many of the institutions have taken action to address their financial difficulties.

But it does make me realise that we must not take the sustainability of educational institutions for granted. And if a university did go under, or, in the face of severe financial difficulties, departments were closed and staff left, how might this affect the intellectual property and networked services housed within the institution? Might not outsourcing the management of IT services, such as an institutional blogging service, be an appropriate strategy for an institution on the list?

Technorati Tags: Guardian

5 Responses to “Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse”

  1. Pete Smith said

    Back in the day (198 ish) Cardiff University faced collapse, and only narrowly survived by all accounts.A great many departments closed down around that time too. I don’t know how those things were managed, but its entirely possible that some work was ‘orphaned.’

    It’s a very live issue for FE too now, with the decline in funding for adult ed.

    Outsourcing is one way, but could be seen as deferring the issue to another vulnerable institution. All bodies such be putting such scenarios into disaster/recovery planning as a first step. In education, I would until recently have said let someone like JISC act as some sort of ultimate repository. But as you’ve pointed out Brian, even they aren’t a cast-iron guarantee.

    In terms of IP there maye need to be a shift so that individuals can maintain the IP, not give it over to institutions; allow people to archive/share their creations, including blogs.

  2. Pete Smith said

    1989 ish that should say…

  3. AJ Cann said

    This is no surprise, although the way the Grauniad presented the story was journalistic hype. The contraction of resources into fewer institutions was presented in Future of Higher Education White Paper in 2003:

    Click to access White%20Pape.pdf

    and lots of people have been gunning for Thames valley for a long time.
    The big crunch will happen in the 2-5 years after the RAE results are announced, so buckle your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride!

  4. […] my colleague Paul Walk pointed out recently. But as I mentioned last year in a post entitled “Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse“, universities themselves are not immune to the financial difficulties which the banks and […]

  5. […] Now the question of the sustainability of instiuional services is something I’ve raised previously, ever since the Guardian had a front page article on the Secret List of Universities Facing Collapse, which I described in a post entitled “Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse“. […]

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