Colleges are not enthusiastic about University of Mumbai’s plans to provide free Wi-Fi to all its 800-plus affiliated colleges.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Sanjay Deshmukh, had announced the plan in a meeting with college principals in December last year. A circular requesting principals to submit a form to avail of the offer was posted on the MU website in February this year but the response from colleges seems is lukewarm.
While colleges want students to get access to the latest communication technologies, many are worried about the feature being misused.
“Why can’t the university make the Wi-Fi project optional for colleges? We already have internet facility on our campus. Our computers in the lab and library are free for staff and students. We don’t want the extra burden of applying for a connection and monitoring it,” said the principal of a suburban college, on condition of anonymity.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the university and Reliance Jio, every student and staff member will get around 20MB free usage a day.
The other facilities would include an online fees payment facility, smart classrooms, dedicated chatrooms and a closed-group channel for the university where it can record, store and replay sessions or lectures that could be viewed later.
College principals said that along with subscription forms, the university should also make available the long-term plan of Wi-Fi services because free data will be provided only for a year.
“While it is a welcome move, we should at least know what is the deal after one year. Would we be allowed withdraw the feature if the charges are steep?” asked Kiran Mangaokar, principal of GN Khalsa College, Matunga.
Similarly, principals are also worried that free internet services, without any restrictions, might be a disadvantage for students during college hours. “We have suggested that the university block all entertainment websites including social media and YouTube. Internet should be used for educational purposes only,” said V Sirwaiya, principal of Wilson College, Charni Road.
As per the circular posted on the MU website, Reliance will block objectionable websites as per directives by Government of India, however there’s no mention of social networking sites, added Sirwaiya.
Officials from the university refused to divulge details and said the process was underway to provide free Wi-Fi to all MU-affiliated colleges. “I’m not aware of any update as of now as various agencies are looking into the matter,” said Anil Patil, head of Board of College and University Development.