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KU to become first British university ‘without walls’

By River Reporter Mar 12, 2012

--break->By Ellie Pullen

KU students may soon be able to access all the software installed on university computers within seconds through their smart phones and tablets, instead of having to queue for a PC.

The pioneering move by Kingston to become a “university without walls” means that the university PCs will be virtualised and students’ desktop environments will become accessible on a range of platforms, including mobile devices.

Ugly PCs

“We can’t force the students to sit down in front of an ugly PC anymore,” said Daniel Bolton, system architect for IT at Kingston, who is overseeing the project.

Kingston will be the first university in Britain  completely to overhaul its network of desktops in this way. The “virtualisation push” will allow students to access their university desktop from whatever device they choose, instead of having to use a university computer and loading time will be much faster.

Remote access

It will also allow students to access their university desktops from anywhere, not just within the University.

This technology, known as “app virtualisation”, would mean that students with smart phones and tablets, such as the iPad, could load software such as InDesign and Photoshop to carry out university work when connected to their virtualised desktop, regardless of whether it is installed on the device being used.

The app virtualisation would also mean that instead of choosing to run either Windows or OSX, which is used on Macs, features and software from both could be accessed at the same time, giving students more freedom with the way they work.

Changing landscapes

“The IT landscape has changed in the University”, Bolton said. “Now we’re a service-on-demand.”

These modifications would also mean that students’ work would not be lost if the computer or mobile device they were working on suddenly crashed.

Access to a computer at the University is currently limited, with very few computers free at a time. When a student manages to gain access, their personal desktop takes a long time to load.

No more queues

The virtualisation of the university desktops would mean no more queuing for computers or waiting minutes for your desktop or programs such as InDesign to load.

Bolton said that the university system had become “a static, bloated, over-managed environment”.

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