Interesting: This is the ‘top concern’ for students on campus

A bogged down campus network could be an insurmountable competitive disadvantage for colleges and universities as they compete for prospective students.

students-network-concernSix in 10 college students identified a “slow” campus network connection as a “top concern” in a recent survey commissioned by Ipswitch, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in network management solutions. Half of student respondents said accessibility issues were their primary concern, while 36 percent pointed to security as their top concern.

Half of campuses said the money spent on satiating students’ broadband needs for their laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, and video game consoles is never recovered through tuition or student fees.

The concern about campus network connections that don’t live up to expectations could be related to how students use the campus Wi-Fi. Nine in 10 students said they use mobile devices for course work, with more than half of those students spending 1-3 hours every day doing so, according to Ipswitch’s survey.

Colleges that struggle mightily to meet every-increasing bandwidth demands aren’t alone, as 76 percent of schools have reportedly had difficulty meeting those demands.

Campus IT officials said it’s proven increasingly difficult to stay ahead of students’ constant need for more bandwidth. More than two-thirds of college students arrive to campus with 2-4 mobile devices in tow, including phones, tablets, video game consoles, and laptops.

“There is an expectation right now among students of, ‘Any device, any time, as much as we want,’” said Joe Harrington, ACUTA president and director of network services at Boston College (BC). “This has [IT officials] back on their heels a little bit, looking for ways to deal with this proactively rather than reactively.”

Not only do most colleges and universities not have an official bring your own device policy (BYOD), but most students are unaware of the mere concept of BYOD, according to the national survey.

(Next page: A lack of BYOD knowledge?)

The survey also revealed a general lack of knowledge of BYOD in higher education: more than one-third of student respondents thought the “D” in BYOD stood for “dinner.” The same number of students believed the “D” stood for “date.” Seventy-three percent of college students didn’t know the “D” stood for “device,” according to the survey.

The lack of organization around a specific BYOD policy in nothing new in higher education. In 2013, three quarters of university chief information officers said that the importance of mobility and BYOD had increased over the past year, but just as many said their institutions have no BYOD policies in place, according to a report by Education Dive.

When the respondents were asked if their institutions had BYOD policies, only 24 percent said they did. Seventy-six percent admitted to having no BYOD policy in place. But the surge of students bringing their own devices to campuses in recent years is a major concern for the 74 percent of CIOs who noted that BYOD was weighing heavier on administrators’ minds.

“We suspected that BYOD trends are a big deal in IT departments, and the CIO answers we received confirmed that assumption,” the study’s authors said.

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