Volume 9, Number 12 March 1, 2002

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Student computing fees to be eliminated in Sept.

Other measures also planned to boost students’ computer access

The U of S will eliminate student computing fees as of Sept. 1 and all students will have free access to the more than 1,200 computers spread across campus for their use.

And the University’s Associate Vice-President for Information & Communications Technology says many more initiatives are planned, to greatly increase student access to computers — including network connections in the residences and more wireless access points across campus.

Rick Bunt says the decision to do away with each college’s computing fee — which can range from $90-$180 per year for students — means funding to support student computing will now be allocated as part of the regular U of S budget process.

"The responsibility for providing facilities and supporting student needs will be shared in a co-operative and synergistic way between colleges and central support units," Bunt says.

In general, colleges will be responsible for discipline-specific computer functions and the University will provide complementary general computer functions in open-access spaces around campus.

Bunt says three popular new ‘public’ student computing facilities opened in the last six months "reflect our new approach".

He says the new Learning Commons in the Main Library is a collaborative effort between the Library and the Information Technology Services (ITS) Division. The new ‘Browsers’ coffee-bar, used bookstore and computer area in Upper MUB is a joint effort of ITS and the U of S Student’s Union. And the new College of Arts & Science open computing centre in Rm. 110 Arts is a collaboration between that College and ITS.

"The Library recently did a survey that shows the Learning Commons is a huge success," Bunt says.

"Between last Oct. 9 and Feb. 4, there were more than 24,600 login sessions and more than 2,500 students have used the 20-seat facility, which is 13 per cent of the total U of S enrolment!

"In addition, the comments we’re hearing back about the new facilities in Browsers and Arts are very positive."

Bunt says, "We’re on the right track, but much more needs to be done. We need more facilities and more services".

He says the University is currently looking at a number of initiatives, including plans to provide residence connections and to install wireless access points in places like the Arts Building, Browser’s and other U of S Libraries such as those in Law and Engineering.

Further, he says he’s looking at ways to increase the amount of University "business" students can do on-line.

"We’d like to see the situation where students could eventually access any U of S service or information or transaction on-line."

Bunt says the elimination of student computing fees not only means every student will have access to campus computing facilities, it may also mean a new approach to course curricula for faculty and students.

"Instructors can now bring technology to the classroom without worrying that their students might be unable to use it," he says.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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