Saving universities millions a year in online subs

Subscription fees for software and other online resources can amount to a substantial sum for universities. Eduserv’s Jenny Carroll explains how its licences for these products help higher education budgets to go further.

Effectiveness, efficiency and value for money are central concerns for the education sector. Chest Agreements address these concerns directly by enabling cost savings, reducing duplication of effort and the burden of complex negotiations and licence management by individual institutions.

In 2013/14 Chest Agreements saved the collective academic community more than £46m. Savings on this scale have a dramatic and positive impact on institutions’ ability to provide the best resources within very tight budgets.

Hold on – what’s a Chest Agreement?

A Chest Agreement is a contract negotiated by Eduserv with a supplier of commercially available software or online resources (e.g. abstracts, full text, journals, e-books, video) to licence their products to the education and research communities in the UK and Republic of Ireland. They guarantee the licence terms and conditions and pricing over a fixed period, usually three years.

Eduserv manages agreements from around 50 different suppliers. Currently all HE institutions and more than 75% of FE colleges participate in one or more agreements.

In it for the long-term

Eduserv and its predecessor, the Combined Higher Education Software Team (CHEST), have been negotiating preferential licence terms and conditions, and managing community-wide agreements since 1988. Year on year the value of the savings afforded has grown and we have every intention to continue this trend. 


As a not-for-profit IT service provider, and a registered charity, our mission is to enable organisations make better use of technology for public benefit. We focus on providing value for money, not making money.

As well as Chest Agreements we provide the OpenAthens service which simplifies access to subscription-based content by giving users a single username and password, whilst our Digital Development and Managed Cloud Services help organisations achieve true digital transformation.

Jenny Carroll is academic communications executive at Eduserv, responsible for promoting the advantages of Chest Agreements to universities and colleges.

Rosie Niven
Rosie is the content editor at Efficiency Exchange