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Meantime IT wins University of Cumbria web contract

Meantime, which is based in Kendal, Cumbria, won the substantial contract following a two month bidding process involving three companies from around the UK.

In Reach websiteThe website, which will be known as In Reach, is part of Cumbria Higher Learning's lifelong learning network, which has brought together each of the major higher education providers throughout Cumbria. In Reach will, for the first time, offer a single resource that will allow users to search on all the available courses throughout Cumbria.

Stephen Wheeler is the learning technology manager at University of Cumbria, which, along with Kendal College, Furness College, Carlisle College and Lakes College, is a lead partner in the delivery of the Lifelong Learning Network.Other partners include the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Open University and careers advice agencies such as Connexions and Aim Higher.

"In Reach is part of a wider Cumbria Higher Learning initiative which will provide a wide-ranging support programme to help people into higher education. We were asked to create an information site which would support the whole initiative by creating a single resource to provide all the information people need to know about courses, and also act as a system for the colleges and HE providers in Cumbria to check course availability."

"The scope of the project is incredibly complicated, because it's a multi-use information site," Steve continues. "People can use it to search for courses, colleges can use it as a search engine within their own sites and careers agencies and employers can use it as a tool for their clients and employees."

The information on In Reach will be broken down further to help individuals search for relevant information according to their circumstances, as Steve explains."We're targeting four key groups: returners to education, particularly those looking for a change in career; employers who can recognise the benefits of putting their staff through further education; employees who want to enhance their career prospects; and those who have no formal education, or poor prospects. The home page will give the user the option of entering via the group that is most appropriate to them, and then it will guide them through the site in a way that's best suited to their purposes."

Fenner Pearson is Meantime's managing director. "This is the type of project we relish at Meantime," he says. "We get a huge amount of satisfaction from taking complex requirements and providing a solution that is easy to use, both for administration and for the end user. We try to make it look easy! It's also a real pleasure to work with a client who has a strong grasp of their requirements and who have really engaged with us in developing a solution."

According to Stephen Wheeler, Meantime's attention to detail and thorough research was the deciding factor in awarding the contract. "We invited several companies to bid for the project, and Meantime was by far the best, " he says. "Fenner and his team really understood what we were saying, knew exactly what we wanted and had really done their homework on who we are, what we wanted and the technology we wanted to use.

"And although this contract is limited to 12 months, I have no doubt that we will maintain our relationship beyond the life of the project."

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