Connecting remote locations in Ireland

Connectivity is about to improve dramatically for students residing in some of the most isolated and rural communities in Ireland. The country’s national research and education network HEAnet will expand its “eduroam Everywhere” project. Eduroam is a global secure mobility service developed for the academic and research community. The service allows students, researchers and staff of the participating institutions to have Internet in their own campus and when they visit other partner universities and institutions.

Not least has the current COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for connectivity, noted Irish Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, as he announced the initiative:

“Education is changing and we must constantly change to adapt to these advancements. Further and higher education is increasingly about learning on the move; earning and learning and part-time learning. COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in the use of remote learning but it is clear that access to modern technology and connectivity is essential.”

The start of a journey

The Irish government had already announced a fund for student devices worth €15 million.

“Today, we are announcing steps to improve connectivity. This is the start of a journey. It is not the end. We will continue to work with transport providers, local authorities, commercial organizations and others to do more to help support students with online learning,” Simon Harris said.

The “eduroam Everywhere” project, led by HEAnet in close co-operation with government departments and local authorities across the country, has already made eduroam available in a number of new locations including libraries in Longford and Galway as well as The Convention Centre Dublin and CHQ (Custom House Quay) in Dublin.

HEAnet will work to expand the service nationwide to locations which are accessible to students including transport services, municipal locations such as libraries, museums and public offices, and commercial locations like coffee shops and shopping centers.

Expanding a well-established service

HEAnet’s CEO, Kerrie Power, said: “HEAnet recognized the opportunity to use its well-established eduroam wifi roaming service to help students address their connectivity challenges to continue their education in an increasingly online and off-campus reality. We would like to thank Minister Simon Harris for his support. HEAnet is now working together with stakeholders in government departments, local authorities and commercial locations to make eduroam Everywhere happen. Our ambition is to secure a better future for students by ensuring that all of them can continue to engage with their education as seamlessly and as equitably as possible.”

The expansion of eduroam hotspots for students will include 90 locations across Ireland in 2021.

The initiative will aim to create extended virtual campuses and offer students multiple options to go online and connect to their Further and Higher Education institutions.

The initial 90 locations include some of the most isolated and rural communities in the country where access to broadband is a major challenge for many students.

Published: 06/2021

For more information please contact our contributor(s):