Low funds mean no free Internet

The University of Cincinnati offers it, but not NKU. No, not football. UC offers free off-campus Internet service to its students. NKU doesn’t because it’s just too expensive. UC’s free Internet, Bearcat Online, is available to any student registered at UC. This is even offered to students at their branch campuses in Batavia and Blue Ash. A student brings a disk in to the library and the whole service is copied there, free of charge, and the student then installs the program on their home computer. This service is mostly for personal use because UC only has their registration available on-line. Most of their other services are obtainable only in person.

NKU has everything from registration to grade cards on-line. There are numerous other services that will soon be available on-line as well. Despite this, NKU doesn’t offer free off-campus Internet to its students.

“It’s the cost. It really is a tough cost to bear,” Gary Pratt, Associate Provost for Information Technology, said. To provide free Internet to between 15,000-17,000 students, staff and faculty, it would cost the University around $750,000 a year. The University would also have to add numerous support staff, phone lines, modems and trouble shooting staff, in addition to the Information Technology staff NKU already employs.

Also, a survey by Student Affairs showed that around 60% of students had access to the Internet either at home or work. Pratt said commercial Internet Service Providers (ISP) could supply Internet to students at a much cheaper cost.

The University is now looking into securing Internet through an ISP at a highly discounted rate for students, staff and faculty. However, the cost would be charged directly to the individual, not the University. Although he couldn’t speak specifically, Pratt said a final deal could be expected within a month or two.

“Our goal would be to have everything available on-line,” Pratt said.

Someday things such as alumni donations and ticket purchases would be available on-line.

“We’re working towards that. We don’t have the budget initiative fund yet to get that in place. We have done a lot in the last two years,” Pratt said.

Pratt and Information Technology are tackling one obstacle at a time. Once they’re done with Internet for students, faculty and staff, either free or discounted, they hope to turn to making more services available on-line.