We’ve spent over a year and a half away from in-person university. We’ve been stuck with zoom seminars and socials and not being able to set foot inside any of the vast array of University buildings on Oxford Road. Hence why the first day back on campus was long awaited by almost every student at Manchester.
Yet, the big day was not only darkened by torrential rain and mile-long bus queues, but also by a WiFi black-out across most of the University campus. Hundreds of students eager to begin the new academic year, wanting to get organised, settled and on top of their workload were unable to connect to Eduroam, the University’s main WiFi router, come Monday morning.
Modern day university is largely reliant on the internet, with a great deal of resources only being accessible online, such as the online library and Blackboard. This meant that the lack of connection disrupted learning significantly. Despite this hindrance, most students were still able to attend their in-person lectures and seminars, even if they showed up 10 minutes late because they couldn’t access their timetables!
Unfortunately, those who opted to study remotely this semester were denied this opportunity, as Zoom was unable to work efficiently without a stable internet connection. This highlights a lack of support for students with alternative learning situations who would potentially have felt ignored by their institution. Furthermore, the lack of wireless has been accompanied by a lack of response and poor communication from the University.
No emails have been sent to students to explain the very limited internet available on campus, nor has any information been released on when the issue will be resolved. Consequently, the entire student body has been left in the lurch on whether the buildings they yearned to sit in for so long are of any use to them now without WiFi access.
As it is an issue that affects most of the student population, as well as WiFi essentially being considered a necessity in this day and age, it would be assumed that the problem would be tackled promptly and efficiently. Evidently this was not the case.
Despite the issue seemingly having been resolved for most people by the end of the week, a simple message from the University would still have been greatly appreciated by most students. It is this vital communication which the University doesn’t seem to understand helps students feel in the loop and at ease that WiFi will soon be restored.
The situation was also the cause of a lot of undue stress for first year students, as their first days in a new educational environment were tainted. One first year living in Ashburne halls said that they were actually sent an email saying they were intending to replace the WiFi. However, it only “seems to have got worse” or “stayed the same”.
Additionally, when attempting to complete lectures online, she stated that she was forced to watch them using her 4G because the videos “were so glitchy”. The lack of communication and responsibility from the University’s officials on such an issue marks a worrying beginning to the return of academic normality.
It raises the question once more of whether student wellbeing and support is even considered a number one priority.