Many students are struggling to connect to Wi-Fi networks at the University of Birmingham

News Editor
Images by Redbrick

Since the start of semester one of the 2019-20 academic year at the University of Birmingham, the Wi-Fi on campus has been described as ‘slow’ and many students are struggling to connect to Wi-Fi networks across campus.

The Wi-Fi on campus is provided by the University and eduroam. Students have been having trouble accessing both networks. Students have said that, although the University has sent emails outlining that they are working to solve the problem, the current state of the Wi-Fi is creating problems for their studies.

People communicated to Redbrick through the Fab N’ Fresh Facebook page with their disaster stories caused by the Wi-Fi. One student outlined how she had to ‘do a timed maths exam on Canvas’ in her first week and said that ‘half way through the test my WiFi cut out’ meaning she had to retake the test. Her low score in the test, caused by the Wi-Fi, means that she is now ‘stuck in a regular two-hour maths workshop’ that could have otherwise been avoided.

Farhan Chin, a Chemical Engineering student, complained about the Wi-Fi saying that having Wi-Fi is essential as he relies on ‘mobile devices: laptops, smartphones, etc.’ in his tutorials. He also says the troublesome Wi-Fi is leaving him and his coursemates ‘stuck with using WiFi Guest’ which has ‘been a nightmare.’

Other students agree that the WiFi is causing problems for their education. Anita, a second-year Law student, told Redbrick that her Wi-Fi ‘takes forever to connect’ and that ‘the problem amplifies at certain buildings – like the engineering building. I can barely load Canvas let alone open my lecture slides.’

Many students claim that it is inconveniencing their time at study spaces on campus and is decreasing their overall productivity. Kezia, a student at the University, said that it took her ‘15 whole minutes to join the Wi-Fi only for it to be unsuccessful and for me to have to go home after just getting to the library.’

Some students say that it has been affecting their hobbies and how their societies are run. Svenja, who is on the committee of the Ballroom and Latin Dance Society, stated that the Wi-Fi delaying and not connecting means that ‘some meetings were much longer than anticipated’ and that one day her society ‘were in the Guild until 11 pm!’

The unreliability of the Wi-Fi has been causing concern for new students at the University, including first-year undergraduates and new students studying masters degree courses. Claire, a new masters student studying physiotherapy, said that ‘I’ve only been studying at the University for four weeks and am already fed up with the Wi-Fi.’

I can barely load Canvas let alone open my lecture slides

A UoB spokesperson told Redbrick: ‘our Network Team has worked rapidly to investigate, identify and resolve the issues with the Wi-Fi network and, together with our external suppliers, took a number of steps to improve the performance of the affected equipment. We have addressed the problems affecting Wi-Fi performance and connectivity across campus and the service is now running normally again following urgent replacement of some underperforming critical network equipment. 

We will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that we respond quickly should these problems reoccur. We fully understand how frustrating this has been and we apologise to staff, students and visitors for the disruption. We are committed to ensuring this doesn’t happen again, and we are putting a plan in place to permanently upgrade critical equipment in our Wi-Fi network as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, this week we have launched our new IT Service Portal, which is a major and positive step-change making it easier for staff and students to find information about our IT services.