Are the LRC facilities up to scratch?

Image: Bryony Wharfe

[Georgia Porter | Sports Editor]

Students have been complaining about the WiFi connection on the University of Hertfordshire campuses since the start of the 2015/2016 academic year.

The University currently has a total of 27,700 students and has seen WiFi usage treble, according to Head of IT, David Combes. In turn, this has increased the amount of technical devices brought onto campus and has caused the UHWifi and Eduroam connections to feel the strain.

The common argument from students regarding the poor WiFi connection is that they all pay £9,000 tuition fees to the University every year. 

UH student, Mothiur Rahman, said: “Our £9,000 a year doesn’t go to improve student wellbeing, it goes into the back pockets of this University and the research it does.”

On the University website, students are promised top of the range facilities, including Learning Resource Centres on each campus, equipped with more than 600 computers all with integrated access to the internet. Also students can bring their own laptops or other mobile devices and use the WiFi or desktop plug-in points.

David Combes, Head of IT, said: “The University seeks to provide good quality WiFi coverage across the College Lane and De Havilland campus, but particularly in the LRCs and Halls of Residence in recognition of student expectations for anywhere and anytime access to services. During the past 12 months, we have seen WiFi usage treble as students bring an increasing number of devices onto campus.”

Internet access is an important tool used by students to aid their academic studies. Services provided in the LRC such as StudyNet, e-books, e-journals and online information services, as well as online help and support, can only  accessed on laptops with a good UHWifi or Eduroam connection. Students can also plug their laptops into a University datapoint using a network cable. There are datapoints throughout the LRCs and network cables are widely available to purchase including at the Students’ Union shops on campus.

Although all of these services can be accessed on the LRC desktops, there are not enough to go around to all the students who visit the centre. The LRC is constantly busy, especially during the months at the end of semesters, when every student on every course has assignment deadlines to meet.

UH student, Prisca Premila Pandita, said: “Trying to connect to the WiFi in the LRC is really frustrating! It takes a long time to load a page and sometimes it doesn’t even load.

“It says that there is poor connectivity and it stays like that for a minimum of two hours. I’m not kidding, I can’t even load StudyNet to get some work done,” she added.

Mr Combes continued: “In an effort to keep pace with demand, we have arranged an external review of WiFi coverage in the LRCs and will be doubling the number of access points in the coming months.”

Students will have to wait and see if on-campus WiFi will improve over the coming months as promised.

Updates since we last spoke with David Combes:
There is now new under floor cabling in place which has doubled the number of Access Points in the LRCs and students can now experience better WiFi in the LRCs, but, as the Network Managers point out, performance can depend a great deal on the type of device you have and even where you sit.

You can update yourself with all of this information just see the following StudyNet posts – Improving Wifi in the LRCs  and Next steps

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Are the LRC facilities up to scratch?