When students at Glasgow University this year had the misfortune to find that the university was now providing an online registration/ student management software called ‘MyCampus’. Quickly reports followed that the software was filled with bugs and had a poor user interface that made it very difficult for students to register. A Freedom of Information Act request made in response to the resignation of SRC President Stuart Richie has lead to new developments in the MyCampus situation. It has become apparent that Paul Cockshott, the staff representative of the Computing Science School, and the rest of the staff at the Computing Science School believe that MyCampus cannot be made ready for full and proper use by next year’s registrations ‘or ever’.
This is a damning statement considering the pressure the team managing MyCampus are under to make sure there is not another ‘enrollment disaster’. Cockshott’s email goes on to describe the errors in the software as similar to the errors they cover in ‘the first lectures of the software engineering courses’. He claims in the email, sent in the second week of term, that the errors in the software were predictable and foreseen by his school. He assures that a lack of familiarity would be much less of a problem with any other piece of software and that it is the software’s unintuitive and poor interface which causes the problems. He claims the Student Life cycle Project’s, who are in charge of running registration, plan of action for next year does not face the core issue that the software is entirely unfit for purpose.
He instead recommends either a return to the former student management/registration service effective immediately, or to completely revamp the MyCampus interface. ‘It is no good claiming we have spent the money and we now have to make it work’ says Cockshott ‘Think of how much this project is costing the university in terms of wasted academic time’. The plan of action proposed certainly does not account for wasted academic time, indeed the email details plans to extend the enrollment period, which the representative claims will only waste more academics time. Cockshott also expresses concern that staffs advice was ignored by the SLP team and met with scorn, as the SLP seek to push on with the software without giving reasons for their actions to the staff. ‘There has been no consideration given to the way we operate, the kinds of activities and all the needs of the students’. ‘It is unfair to put this unworkable load onto a small group of academics. MyCampus has made it impossible for them to do their research or to engage in adequate preparation for their teaching‘. He claims that the whole project is driven by senior management’s need to control and command the staff more effectively, and that to the senior management ‘the knock on effects of this project seem invisible’.
Students could well be justified in worrying that the damaging effects of MyCampus may be leading to lectures that are less prepared, and this disrepute may reflect on them negatively as they go out into the working world.