University Council warns of problems with ICT systems

The ICT systems such as Osiris and Canvas that were implemented on March 13 of this year to support the education process are suffering considerable problems. The University Council is concerned and Executive Board member Jo van Ham made known yesterday in the council meeting that the problems involved are serious ones, and that a task force will be appointed to address them as soon as possible. Additional staff will also be hired for the purpose.

In MyTimetable students are seeing courses that they have previously added suddenly disappear. As the link between Osiris and Canvas is intermittent, enrollments are not being transferred properly from one system to the other. Among 5,000 courses there are 250 for which the number of enrollments in Osiris differs from Canvas. Students who consequently do not have the enrolled status in Canvas have no access to lecture materials and tests.

This is a selection of the problems that the University Council presented to the Executive Board. Boudewijn van Dongen, University Council member for the staff group PUR and associate professor at the Mathematics & Computer Science Department, tells of his own experience of not being able to see the location where he should be teaching certain courses nor being able to see the number of students who have enrolled. "Fortunately, alerting the right person is usually all it takes to get the matter resolved. I hear that from my colleagues too."

Highest priority

Executive Board member Jo van Ham, whose responsibilities include the systems, said yesterday in the University Council meeting that the problems certainly weren't being taken lightly and that the board was giving them the highest priority.

“We are not pleased with this, which anyone could deduce from our reaction to the list of incidents presented by the University Council.” A task force is currently being put together and it will be charged with resolving the problems as quickly as possible. It has not yet been announced who will join the task force but additional staff will be appointed for this purpose.

Van Ham pointed out the concurrence of developments that make the issue rather complex. “The systems were introduced while we were busy with a major reorganization of the support services. This has involved staff transferring to new positions and needing time to get up to speed. As a consequence of the reorganization there was also a hiring freeze for an eight-month period. In addition, this year yet again TU/e saw a sharp rise in the number of first-year students, which is putting great pressure on our staff and facilities.”

Quick action

The University Council made the urgent request that action be taken as quickly as possible, and that it be ensured that the people who are now busy resolving the problems do not become overworked. Van Ham agreed with the recommendations. “We must maintain a high level of trust in our services. In this area our organization is lean & mean and that brings many advantages, but as far as this issue is concerned we are also aware of the drawbacks.”

However, Van Ham also warned that by now giving priority to this matter, other topics on the agenda would be delayed. “So that's something we expect the University Council to understand going forward.”

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