This academic year, it has often been impossible for students to access WiFi in UCL libraries. Though eduroam functioned fine before the summer, since the start of September, coverage has been incredibly spotty, often going down for hours at a time.
In one notable episode last week, WiFi was down across the university, greatly inconveniencing those in lectures and seminars, and those doing administrative work, as well as those in the libraries. Though this was an anomaly, problems with the WiFi in the UCL Main Library and Science Library are all too common.
A spokesperson for the Information Services Division (ISD) attributed this to the ever-increasing number of students at the university: ‘UCL has invested significantly in its wireless system especially to support the growing numbers of students and the increasing number of connected devices they are using’. ISD are ‘continuing to add new [wireless access points] every month.’
Still, it appears ISD cannot keep up with the growing demand for broadband on campus. These outages can greatly inconvenience students, some of whom have to make the choice between using up their mobile data whilst on campus or going elsewhere to work.
Some have suffered worse consequences. One final-year history student told CG how she missed a Turnitin deadline by one minute, having spent 20 minutes walking around the library trying to find somewhere to access the internet. She then had to wait two weeks before she could be sure she would not be docked marks on the essay.
As ever, UCL is struggling to cater for its growing student body (see also: accommodation, room bookings, library spaces, etc.). It is time for administrators to accept that it if they want UCL to be a university of 40,000 students, they must invest in the infrastructure to match.