The domain name for learning

The chances are if you’re reading this, you probably already know what a .ac.uk domain name is and what it’s used for, but maybe not how to actually register one.  If that’s the case then you’ll want to jump towards the end for “How to register a .ac.uk domain“.

For everyone else, we’re going to look at:

  • What an .ac.uk domain name is
  • Who can register an .ac.uk domain
  • How to register an .ac.uk name
  • Typical costs for registering and renewing an .ac.uk domain
  • Transferring an .ac.uk domain between providers
Group of people sat on books studying

What is an .ac.uk domain name?

The .ac.uk domain name is aimed at the higher education and research sector and managed by Jisc who are a UK technology agency focused on higher education and research.

Who can register an .ac.uk name?

The ac.uk domain is managed to add value to organisations in the United Kingdom whose core mission is tertiary education and/or public research, bodies whose membership predominantly consists of such organisations and bodies who are substantially owned by such organisations, by assisting them to meet that mission. It does this by clearly representing their services to their stakeholders and users in a domain that reflects the high quality of provision.

– Jisc, Domain Eligibility Policy for ac.uk

Well that’s all a bit wordy isn’t it?  It can be roughly summed up as, if your primary work is involved in higher education or in supporting higher education in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern then there’s a really good chance you can register a .ac.uk domain.  Specific examples include:

  • Organisations with degree awarding powers e.g. Universities, some colleges
  • Organisations funded by their devolved administration to provide higher education
  • Further education colleges
  • Organisations funded by their devolved administration to provide further education
  • Organisations in England recognised as sixth form colleges
  • Specialist colleges in the UK who aim to promote higher education and training to students with special educational needs
  • Research Councils & Learned Societies
  • Organisations whose core activity is conducting publicly funded academic research, or funding it
  • Higher and further education funding bodies

If you want the full, very wordy, details then the Jisc ac.uk Eligibility Policy has all the rules in full.

How do I register a .ac.uk domain?

If you are an organisation that is connected to the Janet network then you can register your chosen name direct with Jisc, otherwise you need to pick an “approved registrar” to handle registrations and renewals on your behalf.

You can view the full list of approved registrars via Jisc (disclaimer: We’re on the list)

Once you’ve picked your approved registrar they’ll ask you a series of questions:

  • The name you would like to request (see below)
  • Your organisation name and any associated acronyms e.g. Sheffield Hallam University, SHU
  • Information on how your request meets the eligibility criteria
  • Contact details
  • Technical contact details
  • Private contact details
  • Public registrant contact (published in the public domain WHOIS)
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Once that is completed Jisc will review the application and come back with either an approval, denial or request for more information.

Are there any rules on what name I can chose?

There are always a rule aren’t there?

  • Domains are registered on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Domains must be 2 or more characters in length
  • Domains must be representative of the organisation’s name
  • Domains for a project must refer to a project, service or venture that is publicly funded by the UK governement or a devolved body
  • Domains that are generic in nature must provide evidence that they have the backing of the the UK academic/research community
  • Domains can’t be requested for a department of an organisation, they should use a sub-domain of the organisations main domain

If your .ac.uk domain name choice is rejected, you can appeal.

How much are registrations and renewals for a .ac.uk name?

That’s going to depend on your chosen approved registrar, but Jisc charge registrars a fee of £100 + VAT for the first two years of registration, after that they charge a fee of £50 + VAT.

What registrars charge will vary due to a number of factors:

  • Support provided (none, email, phone etc.)
  • How much help is provided with appeals etc.
  • Payment methods
  • Overheads etc.
String - Length? String forms the shape of a UK pound sign.

Generally speaking registrars will add more of a markup on .ac.uk domains than say a .co.uk domain name as it’s a manual system and generally involves at least two or three emails back and forth with Jisc per registration rather than being a fully automated system such as Nominet run for .co.uk domains.

How do I transfer a .ac.uk domain name?

Transferring ownership of a .ac.uk domain name or changing your approved registrar is a manual task and handled by the Jisc support desk and should be handled via your current approved registrar if at all possible.  If relationships have broken down with your current approved registrar then you will need to find a new registrar and then contact Jisc.

Woman and man shaking hands having agreed a deal

Transferring your .ac.uk domain ownership to someone else

To transfer your .ac.uk domain to a new owner you will need to provide notice to Jisc on headed paper stating your intention to transfer the domain and to whom you wish to transfer it.

Changing your .ac.uk approved registrar

To change your approved registrar you will need to provide notice on headed note paper stating the intention to move registrar and providing:

  • The domain name
  • The name of the current registrar
  • The name of the new registrar

You will also need to supply a completed “Modification Template” from the new approved registrar, your new registrar should know where to find this and how to fill it in.

Summary

Hopefully now you know everything you’re likely to need to know about registering, renewing and transferring .ac.uk domain names.  As always, if you think we’ve missed anything then please feel free to get in touch either via social media, email or phone.

If you found this helpful then please share it and help us help more people.