Dundee University is planning redundancies after closing down part of a troubled multi-million pound IT project.
Members of staff within the university’s business transformation department have been informed their jobs are at risk after a major component of a £24 million programme was cancelled several years into its development.
It is understood 13 university staff have been told they are at risk of redundancy as the higher education institution blamed “challenging prevailing headwinds” for the decision.
The project broke down into four main components – finance, HR, research and students.
Work on the student and curriculum management system has stopped but the other elements will continue to be developed.
A university spokesman said: “The implementation of the student and curriculum management system has experienced a more prolonged development cycle than projected.
“With Covid-19 and the challenging prevailing headwinds for higher education, the university has taken the opportunity to reconsider the student and curriculum management system implementation and the parties have now mutually agreed to close down development.
“This does mean staffing reductions will be necessary and we are currently in discussions with a small group of affected staff.
“This includes the exploration of opportunities for the redeployment of the impacted staff.
“We are actively working with the trade unions to manage the impact on seconded staff and those on fixed-term contracts.”
Around £14m has already been spent on the transformation project, with the student element roughly a quarter of that.
A member of staff who worked on the project claimed it meant a “significant sum” would be written off but the university said a “great deal” of the work done so far would benefit the university.
The source said: “There has been massive investment into the programme – you are talking about a very significant sum being written off.
“It’s been very troubled and there have been a number of causes of that – partly it’s an Australian product that’s wasn’t built for the British market, inexperience in the project management and inadequate oversight from the university. Covid is a handy excuse to kill it quietly.
“The relationship between the university and TechnologyOne soured quite early. There have been several project managers come and go.
“I’m not surprised they’ve scrapped this – I’m only surprised they haven’t axed more elements of the programme.”
Responding to the allegations, the Dundee University spokesman said: “The business transformation activity has been subject to close oversight from the outset, including from the university court, our governing body.
“We retain confidence in the governance of the programme, its objectives and our team.
“It is important to note this is a wide ranging transformation programme, which is not limited to an IT project and is already reaping many benefits for the university.
“The finance system element of the programme has now been live for a year and has been successful in helping the university cope with the disruption of Covid-19.
“We continue to work with TechnologyOne on other elements of the business transformation programme, developing their software for finance budgeting and forecasting and introducing new modules for HR and payroll and research for a projected go live next year.”
The student element of the project was to handle the admissions, clearing process, course selection and some timetabling elements.
Edward Chung, TechnologyOne chief executive, said: “We appreciate the tough times the education sector is facing right now as a result of Covid-19 and understand the University of Dundee’s decision not to move forward with implementing our student management system.
“This is only a part of the digital transformation project we’re working with the university on.”
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