In early 2020, Deakin University kicked off a partnership with AARNet and the Eastern Regional Libraries network to provide access to eduroam (education roaming) at 13 public library branches in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria.
The project was driven by the closure of Deakin’s Lilydale Learning Centre, and a desire to continue to provide Deakin students living in the area with a study location connected to the internet close to home. Offering a local solution became even more pressing when government-mandated COVID-19 pandemic restrictions prevented staff and students from travelling to Deakin’s Geelong and Burwood campuses for work and study.
Phill Solomon, Senior Technical Lead of Deakin’s eSolutions ICT Infrastructure Services team says customer experience is a priority for the University.
“For Deakin, this was about delivering a high-quality customer experience. Our Cloud Services Outreach team wanted to find a way to offer a resource to students who may not have a suitable internet connection to learn from home. Providing access to eduroam in local libraries was an idea for a way to do this,” he said.
Like several universities in Australia, Deakin is an eduroam service provider and has worked closely with AARNet to deploy eduroam access for staff and students at multiple sites, including remote campuses, intra-campus shuttle buses, regional hospitals, and at the Geelong waterfront and train station in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong – Geelong’s regional council.
Fortunately for the Deakin eSolutions ICT Infrastructure Services team, Eastern Regional Libraries, a co-operative venture of three outer eastern metropolitan councils – Knox, Maroondah and Yarra Ranges, also saw the value and positive impact that eduroam would provide to the communities they serve; so that staff and students living in the region, from not only Deakin University but all universities, could access eduroam in the libraries as if they were on their own campus. Eastern Regional Libraries decided to become a service provider in its own right.
Premal Niranjan, Corporate Manager, Business and Technology at Eastern Regional Libraries says public libraries are a popular choice for tertiary study at the best of times, and as domestic internet connections struggle with the competing demands of household members working and studying from home, more students are turning to their local library.
“We see eduroam as an enhanced service offering that supports further study and learning in the community. Now tertiary students can access their course work directly and not just via our free Wi-Fi,” he said.