Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Institutes of Technology Funding
106. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the amount of money lost to Dublin Institute of Technology, DIT, due to the bankruptcy of a company (details supplied) that was the institute's information service provider; if he or the Higher Education Authority have undertaken any assessment of the impact of the loss of this funding on other services or programmes within the college; if he or the HEA have knowledge of the source from which the money is being recovered in view of the fact there are reports that students have less access now to online journals as a result of this loss; the reason DIT did not have insurance in place to cover it in the event of this loss; and if it is departmental policy that insurance is in place for such large investments. [8958/17]
The procurement of the services of the company referred to by the Deputy was facilitated by the Educational Procurement Service (EPS). A Request for Tender issued in March 2012 and the company appointed as the preferred bidder in May of that year. Following the liquidation customers who had used the services lost varying amounts of funding depending on the option taken. Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) chose the option to prepay including the associated discounts. I understand that DIT lost a total of £581,000 (circa €718,000).
Given not only the significant amount of money lost but also the need to ensure that this was not the result of any issues with regard to corporate procurement or wider governance, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has been in ongoing contact with DIT in relation to this issue. In addition to the engagement with DIT, the HEA also contacted all other institutions impacted by the administration of the company and has been in contact with EPS in relation to the matter.
I understand that in the short term, DIT procured replacement services to ensure that students had access to adequate library resources and since then the HEA has facilitated the access of DIT to the IReL (University Shared Library Resource) which will minimise DIT expose to such risks around journal access in the future and is also a cost effective measure.
Higher education institutions such as DIT are autonomous bodies and are responsible for the day to day operations of the Institute including the provision of services for its students and for the procurement of goods and services.