Technology services firm B.I.C. Systems has been awarded an €8m contract to design and install a computer system for the Northern Ireland further education sector.
The new Northern Ireland College Information System (NICIS) will be aimed at dramatically increasing the operational efficiency of the IT systems at Northern Ireland’s 16 further education colleges.
The decision to install the IT system throughout the institutions was made by the Department of Employment & Learning following a strategic review carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that a new system was required to deliver the future strategic direction of the further education system.
The solution designed by B.I.C. involves the implementation of software developed by Distinction Systems Ltd and the installation of HP Compaq server technology running on a Microsoft Windows 2000 operating platform.
The pilot college for the new system is the North East Institute of Further & Higher Education. The student management element of the new system is scheduled to be in place at North East Institute (NEI) by June 2003. All enrolments at NEI for the academic year 2003/2004 will be conducted on the new system. The second college to receive the new system will be Limavady College. B.I.C. Systems will also train the relevant staff in both colleges.
Personnel in the remaining 14 colleges will be trained by staff from the NICIS project team. According to the agreed timeframe, all of the colleges are scheduled to be fully live by June 2005.
Alan Shannon, permanent secretary at the Department of Employment & Learning said: “Improved links to the Department will streamline the assessment of allocating funding will help measure progress in the areas of strategic objective and target setting for the sector, and of course evaluating the impact of policy initiatives.”
By John Kennedy