Africa-Press – Namibia. The University of Namibia yesterday announced it was addressing concerns raised by students over restrictions imposed on their internet data usage.
The students want the university to consider the initial agreement to allow them to access other sites on social media.
Student leaders at Unam have raised concerns about the limited sites, which scholars can access with their remote connectivity data that they receive from the university.
In particular, the student leaders at Unam’s Rundu campus are pleading for the removal of data restrictions that were implemented when the university partnered with MTC to provide data for students.
The restrictions included not using social media platforms such as WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Contacted for comment yesterday, Unam spokesperson John Haufiku said management has prioritised urgent meetings to consider the sites not currently catered for.
“Should there be merit, the university management will revise the type of sites that students can access with their remote data,” he said. “Should the request be found wanting, or not feasible, Unam may not consider them or only able to consider the requests in future. Students are being engaged, and so is the service provider. We believe that the issue will be resolved soon.”
Rundu campus student leader Mukoya Vernet narrated that when MTC and Unam partnered, they agreed that MTC would provide 55GB of data, of which 15GB would be used for general purposes and 40GB for e-learning. The students want the data restriction policy reviewed, arguing most of the learner-lecturer discussions happen on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter.
The students allege they are unable to make full use of their connectivity fees using the current arrangement. Equally, they complained they are unable to access sites such as, YouTube, Zoom, Google Meet and emails.
They argue that e-learning sites that they currently have access to do not have the capacity to replace the relevance provided by other sites they would like access to.
Haufiku explained Unam provides all students with internet facilities to ensure access to digital learning resources on campus and remotely.
“While on campus, students have access to Wi-Fi, which is unlimited in terms of accessing both academic and non-academic sites,” he said.
In addition, the university offers students remote connectivity, this is meant to supplement internet access while learning off campus. As such, this data is limited to accessing educational content only. This is to ensure that the data is used for educational purposes,” he added.
When contacted, MTC spokesperson Fikameni Mathias said the data connectivity is a preloaded data connectivity of 55GB monthly. “The connectivity deal has been designed in such a way that it prioritised access to the university’s official learning platforms with the aim to improve academic service provision to students through the university’s online e-learning platforms as well as the official sanctioned applications. Anything supplementary is an added bonus, its design and implementation was simply for e-learning platforms,” Mathias explained.
Moreover, he said, each registered student gets a preloaded SIM starter pack and data is loaded at the start of every month, while unused data is forfeited, meaning data does not roll over to the next month. “Should they run out of data they can recharge and purchase normal data bundles or do Out of Bundle data usage which will be charged at the normal data rate of 90 cents per megabyte,” Mathias said.