Fender takes rap for UKeU

January 14, 2005

A former funding chief this week accepted blame for the failure of the Government's flagship UK e-University project but added that the venture should have been given more time to succeed.

Sir Brian Fender, who was chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England when the UKeU was set up, was giving evidence on Wednesday to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee on Wednesday.

He said: "I was disappointed to see the demise of the UKeU. If you are going to apportion blame, I think you should put it on me for not pointing out forcibly enough the tension between higher education institutions - used to doing things their own way and wanting to run it from entry to process to graduation - and private e-learners, interested in parts of courses and modules."

The committee heard that the money lost by Sun Microsystems UK in the venture was unprecedented in its 20-year history.

Leslie Stretch, the company's vice-president, refused to quantify losses - thought to be tens of millions of pounds - but described them as "very painful".

Mr Stretch added that the company was close to signing a memorandum of understanding with the funding council that would allow the learning platform it has developed to be used free of charge by British universities.

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