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Coleg Gwent spent £14,000 on iPads for governors

Published in News. Last updated on Wednesday September 14th, 2011 at 11:00

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Plaid Cymru regional AM Lindsay Whittle has questioned the spending of more than £14,000 on Apple iPads for governors at Coleg Gwent.

A Freedom of Information request to the college by Plaid Cymru revealed 24 iPads were bought for the use of governors in academic year 2010-11 was £14,376. In addition, £1,198.80 was spent on 24 protective cases/stands for the iPads at a cost of £49.95 each.

South Wales East regional AM Lindsay Whittle, who is a school governor, said that he was not aware of other further education colleges in South Wales providing the equipment for its governors.

He said that inquiries made by his office showed that colleges such as Ystrad Mynach, Coleg Glan Hafren, Gower, Bridgend, Coleg Powys and Pembrokeshire, did not provide any equipment for governors.

He said: “Governors do very valuable work, giving up their spare time to help colleges and schools. But in these difficult economic times, the public have a right to question whether the purchase of iPads is a good use of public money.

“Most governors today have their own computers so are iPads really necessary for what is a part-time role?

“If equipment is felt necessary you could pick up a laptop for £300 to £400 which can actually do more.”

Coleg Gwent defended the spending and said the iPads were bought as a means to cut down on paper.

A spokeswoman said: “Coleg Gwent is one of only three colleges in Wales to have achieved the acclaimed Green Dragon Environmental Management standard at Level 5, which is the final stage of the standard and awarded for organisations who meet the requirements for continuous improvement in environmental management and sustainability.

In line with this approach the Corporation of Coleg Gwent decided to conduct paperless meetings. Due to the size and complex nature of the organisation, Corporation meetings often had around 30 papers to discuss, the vast majority of which were many pages long, and needed to be posted to its 24 Corporation and Committee members. Meetings vary in frequency but typically there are over 30 meetings each year.

“The move to a paperless system was fully justified on environmental and cost grounds.”

She added: “Several options for choice of electronic devices were considered, including price, performance, battery life, ease of use, portability, and practicality in the meeting environment.

“When all these factors were considered a mid-range Apple iPad was chosen as the best all round option. Consideration was also given to the fact that this was likely to be a one-off purchase to last a reasonable length of time. For this reason covers were also purchased to protect the devices and in particular the screens, which is common practice with tablet-style devices.

“The devices remain the property of the College and Corporation members are required to return them to the College once their term of office has ended.”

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  • Allan Jones

    I completely agree Lindsay. They say they have 30 papers to discuss which need to be posted to its 24 members. Why don't they send each member an email with a pdf attached. As for needing papers during meetings a whiteboard would be sufficient.

    “The move to a paperless system was fully justified on environmental and cost grounds.” Ridiculous statement. Don't they even know what the environmental impact of producing an iPad is in the first place then shipping it halfway across the world from China.