The University of the West of England is using networking technology to give students increased access to academic resources.
With reduced budgets and a hike in student fees, universities are feeling the pressure to harness technology to do more and give students a better experience for their money.
By using Microsoft’s unified communications software, Lync – alongside products and services from HP, video conferencing supplier Polycom, networking equipment maker Juniper and electronics supplier Schneider – the university will be able to stream lectures to multiple locations and make them available to watch later.
The technology will also give students better access to lecturers through instant messaging. Students at the University of the West of England will also be able to access video conferencing capabilities and collaboration tools.
As higher education increasingly comes under pressures of cost and competition, technology, as well as academic profile, is seen as a major attraction to students.
“Universities are striving to offer the best facilities and environments to attract prospective students,” said Steve West, vice-chancellor at the University of the West of England.
“Students are now thinking more carefully about the financial investment required for their education, so their expectations have increased greatly. It will be through new and innovative learning methods, like those being implemented by us, that will make universities stand out from the crowd and appeal to a wider audience of students.”
Networking and communications infrastructures are particularly important as universities try to cater for a tech-savvy generation of students used to having information and communication at their fingertips.
Increased competition and the need to cut costs are also driving universities to replace archaic processes in the back-office with software that automates key processes.