I recently read the following:

The research … set out to quantify and qualify the economic effects of the £14bn spent on xxx in the UK every year. Using data from 17 countries over a 14 year period, Deloitte was able to demonstrate that, for every £1 spent on xxx, £6 was generated for the economy – something that amounted to a £100bn effect on the total GDP, and which led the report authors to write “We need to think differently about xxx – as an industry, important in its own right, but also as a fundamental driver of UK competitiveness” .

I read this in the 100th centenary issue of the New Statesman, a weekly left-of-centre weekly publication.

What do you think the subject is? I’ve obviously left out the key words, so try and guess before reading any further.

Might it be education or perhaps a specific aspect of education – further or higher? Maybe its concerned with research activities? Or perhaps it could be about the culture heritage sector? Or, in light of discussions about funding for public libraries, perhaps a campaigning body has provided an economic analysis of the financial benefits provided by public libraries?

In fact the missing word was ‘advertising’ and the study was commissioned on behalf of the Advertising Association. Yes, suggested the article, advertising could hold the key to getting the UK economy out of its current difficulties.

I read this article yesterday after attending an enjoyable Jorum Steering Group meeting in a sunny Manchester. During the meeting steering group members were asked to split into groups and provide a longterm vision for the future of Jorum, which will be fed into a forthcoming Jorum planning meeting.

The initial suggestions were very positive, based on a commitment to openness in higher education and the benefits which could be provided by a centralised service for the sector. However, perhaps due to recent scars, I suggested a less optimistic vision. Although members of the steering group might have liberal left-of-centre personal beliefs, such beliefs, and their application in an educational context, appear to be out-of-sync with the more general move to right.

Image from the New Statesman

Perhaps, I suggested, Jorum needs to be prepared to continue to be sustainable in a changing political and economic situation. One particular example I gave was that Jorum should consider the possibility of providing advertising as a means for generating income.

I was surprised to hear that this suggestion was felt worthy of consideration by others.

As Scott Wilson pointed out recently there probably isn’t an immediate need for Jisc-funded services to generate income in this way, since “HEFCE spending on Jisc core is down from £40.7m in 2012/2013 to £40.6m in 2013/2014“, currently a small amount although “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“.

Might this be a direction in which the sector moves? And although we might expect responses such as “I don’t like advertising on Web sites” and “there should be more funding for education” to be instinctively made, if the alternative is redundancies, might this be a preferred alternative?

I should add, by the way that the article in The New Statesman was a sponsored advertorial.

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