Open-access computers in the Engineering building will be shut down this summer due to the high cost of replacing and upgrading the old stock of computers. Laptops are now being made mandatory for students in Engineering. The move was revealed at a recent meeting within the Engineering school, where it was noted there is a plan to remove the computers from ‘Eng 321 and possibly also from Newst F20’.
A briefing document from the meeting obtained by the Tribune laid out the plan in detail. It stated that ‘last summer three computer rooms were closed and the general trend is towards zero open-access computers across the campus’. In reaction to this, the Engineering IT committee proposed the introduction of a mandatory requirement that students bring a laptop, with the necessary hardware and software for their modules. This will require the school to ensure that all current and incoming students are made aware of this requirement and that the minimum hardware specification is publicised. A consultation is currently in progress to stipulate the necessary specifications. The committee also want to maintain a room where practical sessions with laptops can be run, and reference was made to Newst F20, which could be ‘fitted with necessary power and Ethernet outlets’.
‘The general trend is towards zero open-access computers across the campus’
Lexi Kilmartin, Students’ Union Education officer, called the plan to remove computer labs ‘a definite shame’. She added that IT services are not in a position to upgrade the computers given their considerable funding constraints. She spoke of how certain schools such as Engineering decided to sacrifice their computer labs in order to use the rooms to increase teaching space. Kilmartin linked the issue to the SU’s general campaign this year for an increase in higher education funding ‘to tackle problems such as the underfunding of IT and library services as well as certain academic units’.
UCDSU are working on increasing the provision of loanable laptops as the removal of the computer labs will require all Engineering students to purchase their own suitable laptops. They are also trying to find discounts and offers on laptops that satisfy the hardware and software requirements of such courses. Along with this, Kilmartin said they are working alongside the IT services to make the current software required for these courses, such as Microsoft Office 2016 and Sophos Antivirus, available for free to download on Apple Macintosh OS and Windows computers. UCD’s IT Services offer recommendations for buying a new suitable laptop on UCD IT Services website.
Alison Graham Senior Reporter