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Hundreds of thousands of UK students move to Google Apps

Google Apps Education Edition gathers pace as collaboration benefits continue to drive adoption in UK universities

LONDON, UK (8th October, 2009) – Google today announced that several more UK universities have signed up to Google Apps™ Education Edition. This provides hundreds of thousands more students with access to a free suite of messaging and collaboration tools including Google Mail™, Google Docs™, Google Sites™ and Google Chat™, to help them in all aspects of their university lives. The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Portsmouth and De Montfort University are amongst those offering Google Apps to students in the coming academic year. Having access to Google Apps will help students schedule lectures, gather information in a shared location for group projects, organise society events and collaborate and communicate with tutors and peers. It will also familiarise them with a useful tool for their professional lives, as the adoption of Google Apps within UK businesses becomes increasingly widespread.

With both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield adopting the platform, approximately 60,000 students in Sheffield will soon have access to Google Apps. Sheffield Hallam University was particularly attracted to the commercial use of the service, as Director of Information Systems and Technology, Aline Hayes, explains, “Sheffield Hallam prides itself on preparing students for the commercial world beyond study. Through using Google Apps, our students will become familiar with a set of tools which they are likely to encounter beyond their studies.”

Google Mail was another major attraction in deploying Google Apps Education Edition for Sheffield Hallam University. “We had been looking to improve our email and messaging services for students and Google was one of a number of possible options we considered,” Aline said. “Many students are already familiar with Google Mail from using it in their personal lives before they come to university and they have been extremely enthusiastic about the improved storage and user-friendly interface it delivers.”

The University of Sheffield also reports a positive response from students to the decision to switch. CIO, Christine Sexton, explains, “When we announced our move to Google Apps we received many emails from students expressing their approval, which was very encouraging. Initial uptake during the summer break has also been high, suggesting the service will prove popular with the wider student body.”

As well as seeing general positive feedback from students, the University of Sheffield is also expecting significant administrative benefits from the cloud computing model. Christine continues, “Google has far more resources and time to invest in developing email systems and collaborative tools than we do. With the money and time saved through the switch from our traditional in-house IT environment, we will be able to invest more in other areas where we can have a bigger impact in enhancing our students’ experiences.”

The University of Portsmouth, which went live with Apps on 14th August, has provided 34,000 students access to Google Apps and has already seen students log in from 26 countries in ten different languages. Director of Information Services at the University, Andrew Minter, says: “Google provides the sort of integrated system students have been crying out for. It offers a whole package of collaborative applications our students want allowing them to work together online in real time. As well as email, they can use instant messaging, share documents with other students, clubs and societies, set up their own web pages, and build their own calendars which will soon have personalised timetables incorporated so every time they log on it’s all there.”

Paul Hopkins, Director of Information Services and Systems at De Montfort University, said: “We have been able to implement Google Apps for our 20,250 students with impressive speed. Within two months we had implemented the platform and embedded the email and calendar services directly into our student portal. This has enabled us to rapidly place Google Apps right at the heart of our student experience, giving us the ability to drop time-tabling information directly into the students’ personal calendars, if they choose to opt-in, and the response we have had so far has been nothing short of amazing – Google Apps has helped to create a real ‘buzz’ across the University.”

“With Freshers’ Week just around the corner, it is exciting to know that many more thousands of students across the country will have access to Google Apps to help them make the most of their learning experience and university lives,” says Samantha Peter, Business Development Manager, Google Enterprise. “As students take their university account with them after they graduate, they can keep access to their work and easily stay in touch with tutors and peers. The move of many universities to the cloud is not just about the substantial cost savings they can achieve, but increasingly about providing students with the tools which will be of use beyond their studies and in the world of work, where Google Apps is becoming increasingly prevalent.”

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