Stand Up and Surf (SUAS) computers across UCD campus are to be removed entirely by 12th July 2018 under the University’s IT Services’ PC Replacement Plan.
SUAS computers were freely available to use across 15 different facilities in UCD, most notable in the Newman Building, where almost 50 PCs lined the counters outside the Arts Programme Office, Theatre L and the Lower Ground Floor.
In response to a request for information, UCD IT Services issued a statement to the University Observer which said that a “decision was taken by University Management in 2015 to prioritise the replacement of equipment in bookable teaching facilities… and to retire all SUAS stations as they reach end of life and are no longer in warranty.”
Pointing to the services still available to students, the statement read that students “can still use a number of open access student computing labs across campus plus an expanded laptop loan service (offered by UCD Library with support from UCD IT Services).”
The SUAS PC services were also located in the Daedalus Building, where there were 15 devices, the Science Education and Research Centre (12 devices), the Sutherland School of Law (15 devices), the Student Centre and Sports and Fitness Centre (12 devices) and the Gerard Manley Hopkins Building (8 devices).
Speaking to the University Observer via email, UCDSU Education Officer Stephen Crosby explained that “UCD IT Services is in the third year of a five year plan to refresh and decommission the number of open-access PCs owned by UCD. This decision was made by UCD IT in order to reinvest resources into dedicated teaching computer labs rather than the Stand up and Surf (SUAS) machines.”
“The Union has notified UCD Management of the impact removing SUAS computers in the Newman Building would have, particularly during peak times such as module registration in September. The Union remains dedicated to enabling all students to access IT infrastructure in UCD regardless of which building they find themselves in.”
The University Observer reported in September of last year that the number of computer labs across UCD campus is to be reduced to a “bare minimum” in an effort to support a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ culture as outlined in UCD IT Service Plan up to 2020.
Speaking at the time, then-UCDSU Education Officer Robert Sweeney stated that the removal of the public computers was “a very negative approach” and that the decision had been taken without consultation with the Students’ Union. Sweeney also claimed that the computers were removed on the direction of UCD President Andrew J. Deeks.
“Students from engineering or business who require laptops in their programmes can no longer rent them directly from IT Services” Sweeney told the University Observer at the time. This, Sweeney stated, “means that students who are financially disadvantaged now have to be forced to buy a laptop when they can’t afford it.”
Until recently, UCD IT Services had over 700 open access PCs and SUAS facilities available for staff and student usage across campus.
The first SUAS computers were installed in the Newman building in 2006. A UCD IT Services Student Guide from 2007 noted that their initial success led to an expansion of the SUAS facility. The guide stated that the SUAS PCs were “designed to provide you with quick access to check email, do a web search or print a document.”
In their statement, UCD IT Services referenced a survey undertaken in 2016 that showed that 96.6% of students owned smart phones and laptops.
“…as a result, we have developed and continue to support campus wide WIFI access for all students in key areas along with the IT support of all BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices)”.