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Learning grid setbacks;Bytes

The Government's drive to bring business into the National Grid for Learning has hit problems in Northern Ireland and Scotland. One of two consortia bidding for Northern Ireland's Classroom 2000 project, a pound;250 million private finance initiative contract to equip all the province's 1,300 schools with computers, has withdrawn from the race. Capita Group, which was leading a bid that included Compaq and BT, has not revealed why it pulled out but it is known there was concern over profit levels from the 10-year contract. This leaves a consortium involving Research Machines and ICL - but it will not get the contract unless it can provide better value for money than the public sector.

Meanwhile, a row has erupted in Glasgow, where the city council denies allegations of behind-the-scenes manipulation of a pound;15-pound;20m contract to refurbish secondary schools. The dispute centres on the type of computers - PC or Apple - to be installed. A council spokesperson said neither of the two consortia that are bidding for the contract would be ruled out because they included one type of computer or a mix of the two. A decision will be made early next month.

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