Bruce Girdlestone, sales director-higher education of Glide Group looks at university connectivity.

Smart technology continues to evolve and the Internet of Things (IoT) is creating seamless experiences in buildings - office blocks already employ smart temperature control and keyless entry to deliver greater workplace efficiency and improve the experience for staff. Higher education has embraced this concept, with many universities working towards becoming smart campuses. The aim is to achieve a seamless and intuitive experience for staff and students by connecting to one network.

For example, many universities have made it their mission to deliver an enriched, personalised experience for students, staff, academics and visitors through their vision for a smart campus. In the hopes of bringing people together, processes and services will create a connected campus. These universities understand that the university experience is more than just about education. For many students, it’s an opportunity to explore new surroundings and become more independent. Students don’t wish to spend the majority of their time in halls of residence - they want to explore the areas outside of their campus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only further emphasised and accelerated the pace at which universities must adapt to the fast-changing higher education market, especially when it comes to technology. In fact, by 2026, students enrolling at university will be younger than the smartphone and have only ever lived with technology and the constant connectivity it brings. This is why many universities are investing and launching a smart campus initiative that sets out to transform the way people experience the university. The use of such technologies unlocks data and information that will be harnessed for valuable insight, facilitating opportunities that will enable world-leading research, teaching and learning.

Universities are providing great opportunities for students through technology. Still, in order to optimise the student experience, they need to look at how they can enhance it across the whole city, not just the campus.

Connectivity that goes beyond university walls

With one network covering areas such as shopping centres, leisure centres, public parks and libraries, students can learn in ways that best suit them. With flexible learning now standard practice, students can work from a local Starbucks if they want to. They can dial into a lecture from a leisure centre café straight after or before a workout. With smart city infrastructure, students can benefit from a personalised experience that caters to their needs whilst they further their education.

Students expect fast and reliable internet connections to permit them to submit their final projects from anywhere within a city campus. The pressure is on both universities and cities themselves to provide meaningful connectivity that creates a seamless and streamlined experience for locals, visitors and students in today’s demands for ultimate and always-on connectivity.

An incentive for smart cities

With gigabit infrastructure on the rise, internet speeds are able to scale and the opportunity for optimal connectivity is at an all-time high. A full-fibre delivery that uses the latest network technology provides a reliable and future-proofed service for students and the general public. Gigabit broadband that circles an entire city mean greater speed and productivity for the community. With this in place, students are given equal levels of Wi-Fi connectivity and access to the internet regardless of whether they are at home or in a local café. This frictionless experience is what students have come to expect.

Reliable, ultra-fast broadband aligns with the agile learning patterns of modern students. Hybrid learning will see students tune into their lectures from anywhere, which allows them to continue learning seamlessly from remote locations but only when their broadband is fast enough.

As prospective students look to gain more from their university experience, the onus is on universities and local councils to bring hyper-fast gigabit-capable broadband to the campus and city to help facilitate high-quality education. The reliance on connectivity to fulfil the university experience is here to stay and needs to be adopted across entire cities as smart infrastructure to empower students wherever they are.