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One in five uni students battling inadequate broadband

Monday, March 28th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

One in five university students are struggling with broadband that is inadequate for their needs, Cable.co.uk can reveal.

A survey of more than 600 students from universities across the country found that just under 20% said their broadband connection didn’t meet their needs.

The poll, carried out for us by student money site Save the Student, asked students whether the broadband in their student accommodation ‘meets their needs’, with nearly one in five answering no.

With the Higher Education Standards Agency (HESA) putting the number of undergraduate students in 2014/15 at around 1.7m, that would amount to roughly 345,579 students battling with poor broadband.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk, students who said their broadband was inadequate described problems connecting to online resources, downloading lecture slides and accessing pdfs, and even having to miss lectures to wait in for broadband engineers.

'Completely without internet'

Ruth Dobson, 23, who is in the final year of her international relations degree at Portsmouth University, said she uses broadband to download lectures slides and do reading, as well as watching YouTube or Netflix or playing video games.

The 23-year-old, who said her student house’s monthly broadband bill has risen by £5 in the three years she’s lived there, added: “Some days we go completely without internet because it is so poor or just doesn’t turn on.

“I have had three technicians not arrive or are AWOL and have had to miss lectures to let them into the house. It is horrific how bad it is.

“I could be directly connected to the box with a cable and I still can't load my Dropbox with my dissertation on.”

Beth Sargent, 20, who is studying fashion, media and promotion at the University for Creative Arts in Rochester, said her student household should be getting speeds of 17Mbps but that a recent online test showed a download speed of 4.32Mbps and upload of just 0.76Mbps.

She said they had suffered constant problems with their Sky connection, but the provider was trying to help them sort it out.

“We also have to do a lot of research for uni work," said the first year student.

“A lot of the time our router just stops working, but I have to credit Sky for staying on the phone to us whilst we tried to sort it out.

“Nothing loads quickly on our laptops and it makes it hard to watch anything online as it is constantly buffering.”

Study-related surfing

Despite some students complaining that poor internet is interfering with their university work, the poll revealed that while 85% of students use their broadband connection to surf the net, only 35% are using it for study-related surfing.

Asked what they used the internet for, just over a third (35.5%) said study-related surfing while nearly half (49.9%) said non-study-related internet use.

Fewer than one in 10 (8.4%) said they use their broadband to stream TV, and perhaps surprisingly, only 24 respondents – 3.8% – said they use it for gaming.

And just 2.4% said they use broadband for Skype or video calling.

Alex Smith, 22, who is in the first year of his PhD studying Biotribocorrosion at the University of Leeds, explained why his broadband use goes on non study-related surfing.

“I do most of my work in university as I have my own desktop and office space so mainly use my broadband at home for streaming and such,” he said.

“The connection at home is pretty quick, never had an issue with video streaming.”

'Not up to scratch'

Jake Butler of Save the Student said: “It is a surprise to see that such a high number of students feel that their broadband isn't adequate for their needs.

“On the whole, students are part of the generation that are most active on the internet so a good quality service is so important.

“Not only do they need to rely on the internet for their university work such as research and online tests but also extra curricular activities such as streaming their favourite TV shows or music.

“Their reliance on their broadband service is huge and it can cause a lot of problems if it's not up to scratch.

“Many would even argue that it could affect their grades.”

The online poll, carried out by Save the Student on behalf of Cable.co.uk, surveyed the broadband use of 628 students from universities across the country.

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