The technology buck has to stop;Letter;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
IT WAS striking to read two examples of blatant buck passing in the news item about the UCAS electronic applications system and your feature on BT Internet charges (TES, November 12)

The unnamed UCAS spokesman you quote was clearly laying the blame for the current mess in the three-year-old computerised applications system on "out of- date systems", and that the number of schools reporting problems was "not significant".

His first point is just wrong - our network (RM Connect) was new last year, and we were assured a year ago that UCAS had ironed out all the problems on this very common school computer system. The second begs the question: just how many candidates have to have their applications lost or delayed before UCAS considers the problem significant?

In TES Online, you quoted another unnamed spokesman, this time from BT, saying that "no schools had complained about excessive ISDN bills, but if there were cases the company would try to devise a 'sensible solution'."

Wrong - we have been in dispute about high charges since December 1998, when we were one of the early takers for the BT Internet scheme. In all that time, despite numerous telephone calls and much letter writing, I have received just one letter from BT, this August, suggesting we take the problem up with our "equipment supplier or programmer".

I understand that a large number of other schools now signed up to BT have had the same problem we had last year (which was due to the software problems mentioned in the article), and it is simply not on for BT to continue to plead no knowledge of a problem that is draining our schools of badly needed funds.

Isn't it about time large organisations worked for and with schools in cracking these real problems of technology, rather than continually laying the blame at someone else's door? Meantime, I suggest that schools refuse to take responsibility, financial or otherwise, for new software that has been inadequately tested.

Ben Driver, Head of ICT development, Tiffin school, Queen Elizabeth Road, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

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