Bug may still strike Y2K 'safe' campuses

December 10, 1999

The millennium bug may yet be bustling around under the surface of higher education in the United Kingdom as many institutions are adopting a "wait and see" approach. Its complex nature has made forecasts of a problem-free date change impossible.

The state of preparedness for the Y2K bug, varies considerably. The complexity of the problem, costs and staffing has prompted many to do just enough, according to one university spokesman.

Don Cruickshank, chairman of the government's Action 2000 group, said that the UK generally had risen to the challenge.

But he warned: "Monitoring will continue throughout the millennium. It is not enough that we have so far met the challenge."

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is a signatory to the government initiative Pledge 2000, which promotes "co-operation rather than litigation" among UK institutions.

A HEFCE spokesman said: "All institutions have had independent assessments during the past year and the preparedness of the HEFCE sector is good."

HEFCE raised awareness of the issue in June 1997 with a

guidance checklist. It encouraged institutions to consider a review based on this guidance and to report the results to their audit committee.

The council has discussed the issues with Universities and College Information Systems Association and the Council of Higher Education Internal Auditors.

A questionnaire to all institutions in April 1998 and May 1999 asked them to set out their plans for compliance. A follow-up questionnaire was sent in October and a number of specific audit visits have also been conducted. The Audit Service has run two seminars for the sector on the subject of embedded chips, legal issues and business continuity planning.

Norman Wiseman, head of Joint Information Systems Committee programmes, said that all major services had completed tests and were confident that there were no major issues. Key staff will be working throughout the critical few days around January 1 2000.

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