Durham top for on-campus wi-fi

Durham University is the top university for on-campus wi-fi, according to data compiled by StudentCrowd, an online review community for students

The data has been collated from thousands of StudentCrowd reviews for Jisc, manager of the of the eduroam network within the UK, which serves more than 95% of higher education institutions.

StudentCrowd asks reviewers to rate universities on criteria including campus facilities, students union and wi-fi. The data, which is based on 7,348 student reviews, gives Durham an average score of 4.5 out of 5 for wi-fi, followed by Lancaster University and the University of Sheffield. 

Wi-fi access has become an essential for many people and students are no exception. Research published earlier this year by facilities management company Sodexo found that wi-fi is of the highest importance to this generation of students, with 79% of UK students considering it the most important service in their university environment. 

Jisc’s own Student Digital Experience Tracker, which surveys 8,000 students, also emphasis the importance of connectivity and digital tools. The data reveals that 97% of HE learners find information online on a weekly basis during their course. 

The tracker also reveals that 88% of students who responded use their own laptop and 84% their smartphone as part of their learning. With an average of 2.72 personal devices per learner, wi-fi connectivity is an essential service that supports students’ education.

The top 10 universities for campus wi-fi:

1. Durham University

2. Lancaster University

3. University of Sheffield

4. Loughborough University

5. University of Leeds

6. Keele University

7. Newcastle University

8. Royal Holloway, University of London

9. University of Winchester
10. University of Leicester

Most universities now provide free wi-fi, so that students can connect to the internet on their own device. On campus, many universities offer eduroam, a European-wide wi-fi service for the academic and research communities, while university accommodation is generally served by different providers.

Eduroam is a roaming service which can allow registered users to access wi-fi from any university campus in the UK, regardless of whether or not they study there. In October 2017, eduroam reached more than 1.3m unique devices connected during the month.

Wi-fi is useful for social activities, including keeping in touch with fellow students, which fosters a sense of belonging on campus. Students also rely on good connectivity for entertainment and Jisc has put Netflix servers in its Slough data centre so that students can enjoy stable and secure video streaming in a more cost effective way. 

A review left on StudentCrowd by a graduate from Durham University said they “appreciated how fast / reliable” the wi-fi at their university was when they got their own on leaving. 

There were also positive comments about other table-topping universities: “I can get fast wi-fi anywhere I go,” said one reviewer writing about the University of Sheffield. While a student at Loughborough University noted there was wi-fi access all over campus – “even the shuttle buses!” 

Sarah Davies, head of higher education and student experience at Jisc, said: “With students relying on digital devices for study, personal organisation and leisure, it’s no wonder they see good wi-fi connectivity as a key aspect of their study environment. Generally, universities are responding well to this challenge, with 80% of HE students reporting that they have access to reliable wi-fi at their usual place of study.”

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