The University of Otago plans to reduce the number of
computers it provides on campus, expecting students to use
their own devices instead.
Information technology services (ITS) director Mike Harte
said its ''student desktop replacement project'' would mean
students could access course materials and university
software on their own computers using ''virtual desktop''
This meant students would no longer need to use the
university's computer labs to access its services and
software, allowing it to reduce the number of computers it
provided on campus, Mr Harte said.
The approval of the project comes after large changes in
computer use and ownership by students since the university
commissioned its student desktop system in 1990.
''At that time, only 14% of students owned their own
computers and the computer labs, containing a fleet of
university-owned computers, was the best way to support
teaching and learning.
''There have since been significant changes in student
ownership of laptops and other devices - 98% of students now
own their own laptops, and students are now also more likely
to own other devices that can also access the internet,'' he
Mr Harte said students would prefer being able to access
course materials in their own time and space, and on their
choice of device, rather than having to use a
university-owned computer in a prescribed location. The
reduction in demand for university-owned computers would also
lead to savings on hardware for the university in the long
term. The university would retain ''a number'' of computer
labs on campus, he said.
The project was approved during the closed section of this
month's university council meeting, but its budget remained
commercially sensitive because tendering was not yet
Otago University Students' Association president Francisco
Hernandez said the changes would benefit students as long as
the university provided enough computers for those who did
not own laptops.
It would be more convenient for students to be able to access
university services on their own computers, he said.
According to its divisional plan, the university's ITS
employs 155 equivalent full-time employees and has an
operating budget of $41.5 million.