HE TV in the spotlight

September 22, 1995

Scotland's higher education institutions are being given the chance of securing their own television channel, putting them in the forefront of European educational developments.

Scottish Television and ScottishTelecom, the telecommunications branch of ScottishPower, are offering a "narrowcast" system which will allow programmes to be transmitted to staff and students across the sector.

The Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals will consider the proposal next month. There has been little overt enthusiasm so far, with only a handful of principals attending an initial presentation by the two companies. But Alistair MacFarlane, principal of Heriot-Watt University and long-time proponent of innovative uses of new technology, hopes to sway the sceptics.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for Scottish higher education and in my view, if we do not seize it, the system will bitterly regret it."

Professor MacFarlane said the institutions were being given the chance to build on a double foundation with the introduction of high-speed Metropolitan Area Networks, which allow them to share information and computing resources.

"I think that the proposal is going to put Scottish higher education on the spot because it has not noticeably responded well in the past in terms of collaboration, and this is going to require an unprecedented degree of close collaboration," he stated.

The companies have stressed that the proposal would allow Scottish higher education to steal a march on the rest of the United Kingdom as well as on the rest of Europe.

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