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Dealers expelled from schools market

Government wants less than 20 resellers to stay behind

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Resellers may find themselves pushed out of the education market this month after the government names those companies selected for its accreditation programme. Through BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), the government wants to appoint a select group of resellers accredited to supply IT kit and services specifically to this market. BECTA plans to certify less than 20 resellers for the whole of the UK for its Certified Managed Services programme. It will announce the chosen companies by the end of July. It will not stop other companies from marketing to schools and higher education colleges, BECTA said. But institutions will be given a list of recommended companies for supplying IT services. Viglen, one of the 20 companies in the final stage of the process, has applauded the government's move. Bordan Tkachuk, Viglen's CEO, said there was a real need for an accreditation scheme to protect schools. "It can only be a good thing. The local dealer community is notorious for companies going out of business. The BECTA scheme would give schools some fall back," he said. Viglen, which gets around 40 per cent of its £40 million turnover from the education market, is pressing to expand its presence in the primary and secondary school sector. At present, Viglen is the largest player in the higher education market. Its rival, Research Machines (RM) in Oxfordshire, controls the schools market. RM said it was also waiting to hear about the accreditation. A BECTA representative refused to comment on which resellers were running for the scheme. It said it had received 112 applications, and had so far cut the number to 20. Regarding the effect on non-certified resellers winning education contracts, the BECTA representative stressed: "It is an optional way for schools to buy. It is designed to take pressure off those responsible for IT purchasing in education." ®

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