UCAS will not replace its struggling systems in time for this year's round of applications, according to a tender notice.
An online tender confirms that UCAS will not upgrade its current systems in time for the results rush that is expected this year, which raises doubts as to whether or not it will be stable for students checking their university applications during summer 2012.
In August 2011 UCAS’ Track website, a site thousands of students use to check their university application progress, went down for almost two hours after it could not cope when traffic levels quadrupled. Leaked documents, revealed this weekend by The Sunday Times, also indicated that UCAS’ board of directors has “serious concerns” that its current systems are so outdated that they will not be able to cope with the traffic that is expected this year.
The documents also detailed how UCAS’ systems had not been tested to ascertain whether they could stand up to hacking attempts. This was brought to the fore when 22,800 students had their emails and passwords stolen last year by hackers based in China.
UCAS has said that it will not comment on the leaked documents, but insisted its systems will be able to cope with any increased traffic.
“We do not comment in detail on leaked confidential papers out of the context of the responsible and wide ranging discussions that the Board and its committees have when they meet,” said UCAS Chief Executive, Mary Curnock Cook.
“Applicants and Institutions can be confident that there has been significant investment over many months to secure systems and service levels this summer, and to strengthen the security of data held by UCAS.”
It is thought that this year UCAS may send out confirmation of university places via text message in order to ease online traffic.
However, the beginnings of the £20 million tender to replace UCAS’ entire client facing systems, which will include software applications, infrastructure and technical platforms, will not be made available until mid-2013.
This will be the first phase of the rollout, where the core infrastructure and capabilities will be delivered. Two further phases will follow up until the end of 2016, which will see additional functions rolled out across all of UCAS’ business lines.
The final deployment will include a new CRM system, a data warehouse, business intelligence tools and business process management solutions.