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Higher education group calls for pricing restraint in edtech sector


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A collective of higher education and research sector organisations has appealed for pricing constraint from digital content and software vendors in the education technology sector.

Jisc, the membership organisation for technology services in higher and further education, has publicised the statement in response to the effect of the cost of living crisis.

The statement points out that, while UK universities, research institutions and colleges have a vital role to play in driving growth, jobs and prosperity, they face soaring costs coupled with a reducing income.   

At the same time, institutions are under pressure to deliver more, including providing extra support to students and staff struggling with the cost of living, achieving net zero, and training approximately 500,000 health and care professionals before 2026. 

Perfect storm

The group of signatories to the statement said: “The sector faces a perfect storm of declining resources and increased demands.   

“We ask that providers work alongside us and not impose price increases, bundle products or otherwise impose conditions that limit our ability to meet our community’s needs or manage our spending. 

“We call upon suppliers to offer flexibility, pricing constraint and to partner with us to meet these challenges.” 

Signatories include Professor Stephen Decent, chair of the Universities UK/Jisc content negotiation strategy group, Karel Thomas, executive director of the British Universities Finance Directors Group, and Ann Rossiter, executive director of the Society of College, National and University Libraries.

Struggling students

Decent added: “The combined impact of an extraordinary hike in energy and equipment prices, the cap on student fees and the need to support students struggling with the cost of living means that institutions are facing unprecedented financial challenges. 

“Additionally, while some digital content and software suppliers offered free access or discounts during the pandemic, these have now largely disappeared.  

“For all these reasons, budgets are under huge pressure and many institutions cannot afford to provide the resources that staff and students need for effective teaching, learning and research. 

“This is why we’re calling on suppliers to do right by students and researchers and make every effort to ensure their products are affordable.” 

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