ITM laptops may be back on-line

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By Kevin Ritchie

The school of information technology management’s laptop program was set to pass its next hurdle at Tuesday night’s academic council meeting.

If the council approves the program’s academic merits, plans to phase in mandatory laptops over four year will begin in fall 2002, said ITM departmental council secretary Naushad Jamani.

The academic standards committee—a subcommittee of academic council—has reviewed “unanswered questions” surrounding the program’s benefits to students and recommended council give it the green light.

The program will see students lease laptop computers at a price estimates as high as $1,600 a year.

Jamani said the program will improve the quality of ITM students’ education and alleviate the problem of crowded computer labs.

“[The laptops] are in your face. You don’t have to worry about looking for a computer,” he said. “We have to keep up with the industry.”

In November, the academic standards committee nixed plans to go ahead with the program this fall because members wanted to make sure students had a say in the proposal.

“We’re students protecting the right of future students,” Jamani said.

The delay will ensure the program is an “extremely polished, high-quality initiative,” the committee said in its proposal.

Jamani said he hopes to see Ryerson students pay the least of all ITM schools in Canada for the computers and said it’s “definitely realistic” to slice the $1,600 price tag in half.

But ITM director Kenneth Grant disagrees.

“Nobody can acquire a new laptop at $800  year,” Grant said. “Cost is an important issue, but it’s not the primary issue. Our primary issue is to get people a better education.”

The cost of the laptops includes insurance, software, technical support and wireless connections.

Grant said it’s unrealistic for anybody to lease a laptop for less than $1,000 in today’s marketplace.

If the proposal is approved, the school will start to fundraise money for bursaries and scholarships to help cover costs for the neediest students.

If approved, the school will start a bidding process among companies such as IBM, Compaq and Dell to see who comes up with the most attractive contract.

To implement the program, Grant said the school will form an advisory group of students and faculty to oversee the details of the lease agreement.

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