Cambridge dons row over £9m IT fiasco

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The Independent Online

A meeting of Cambridge dons to discuss how the university had wasted more than £9m on a computer system descended into acrimony yesterday with claim and counter-claim about who was to blame.

A meeting of Cambridge dons to discuss how the university had wasted more than £9m on a computer system descended into acrimony yesterday with claim and counter-claim about who was to blame.

Academics and university administrators blamed each other for the accounting system which, some staff say, brought the university to a near standstill when introduced 15 months ago after years of planning.

The introduction of "Capsa", designed to keep track of university spending, was deemed an "unmitigated disaster" by two independent reports published earlier this month.

But at a meeting of the university's governing body yesterday, Gillian Evans, a history lecturer, said "a climate of fear'' had contributed to the disaster by preventing staff "asking awkward questions". The reports had exposed "the inner sickness'' at the heart of Cambridge University, she said.

Joanna Womack, the treasurer, said she had been unable to recruit staff of sufficient calibre to introduce the system because salaries were "too low" and processes "too slow".

Sir Alex Broers, the Vice-Chancellor, outlined proposals to overhaul the university's governance which, he said, would prevent another debacle.

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