Agencies collaborate to provide better service for UK higher education

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Three UK higher education agencies have announced plans to explore increased collaboration and cost sharing through a partnership to be known as the M5 Group.

The three agencies, HESA (the Higher Education Statistics Agency), Jisc and QAA (the Quality Assurance Agency), have a long history of collaborating on projects, in particular with HESA and Jisc delivering a national business intelligence service. The agencies intend to work even more closely together to develop better solutions to some of the long-term issues that are being faced by the UK higher education sector.

The tri-partite approach is aimed at providing a greater pool of resources aiming to improve services.

Paul Feldman, chief executive of Jisc, said: 'Talks between the parties have been progressing for some months. The time is now right to take this forward in a more meaningful way. Not only are we geographically close – all based around the M5 in the south west – we also serve many of the same institutions.'

Paul Clark, chief executive of HESA, said: 'The whole of the education sector is facing up to severe financial pressures so it is vitally important that we do what we can to help improve efficiency and value for money.'

Douglas Blackstock, QAA chief executive added: 'HESA, Jisc and QAA all have very distinct and different strengths and institutional offers. We will be working together for the benefit of institutions across the UK whilst continuing to operate as separate and independent organisations.'

Further details on how the M5 Group will be supporting the higher education sector will be made available in the coming weeks.