Computer Services Short Changed

A new report suggests that the university could be getting more zeros and ones for its money.

Cambridge computer computing council Hermes it management patchy service university

The University computer services have been deemed “patchy” by a new report, published this week.

Despite spending more than other universities, the panel, put together by the University Council, fear that Cambridge isn’t getting value for money.

The university recently increased its IT expenditure to over £40 million per annum in the 2010-11 academic year.

The report made recommendations including for an urgent review of the career structures and employment arrangements of computing support staff in a bid to improve individual mobility and team flexibility.

It also proposed that the two central parts of the university’s IT organisational structure, the University Computing Service and the Management Information Services Division, be combined into one led by an information services and systems director as quickly as possible.

The report said: “The panel concluded that many users in Cambridge might benefit from improvements in the provision of systems and services; it was telling that more recently arrived staff and students were fastest to characterise provision as lacking facilities that they had previously experienced elsewhere.

“The distributed responsibility for service provision provides for innovative approaches, but contributes to the patchiness of services. Overall, the panel was not convinced that we get the best service we could for our investment.”

A consultation has been launched on the report’s recommendations, which will run until the end of November, with a report on the final recommendations set to be released in the spring.

Rowan De Souza, a medic at Clare, told The Tab: “I’m surprised that the university spends so much on its computer systems, but I don’t think they’re too bad. Having said that, Hermes is pretty old-fashioned and inefficient, driving most people to reroute it through a more practical alternative like Outlook or Gmail.”

The University’s computer networks also came under scrutiny over the summer after some staff usernames and passwords were posted online by anti-establishment hackers.