Why we recommend Cisco Meraki for Further and Higher Education

Across colleges and universities of all sizes and types, the need for modern WiFi solutions is clear. Further and Higher education caters to some of the UK’s most tech-savvy citizens – students. As part of the first generation to be digital natives from childhood, today’s college students have never known a world without the internet. In fact, 94 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone. As students arrive on campus, they expect instant connectivity — from streaming Netflix and playing video games to receiving notifications from mobile apps that guide them to their next class or inform them of relevant campus activities.

Just like the students they serve, college campuses are becoming more digital. Blended learning is booming (90% of college and university deans say their campuses will increase online learning over the next decade) and even traditional lecture halls and classrooms are suffused with digital content, such as video, lecture notes and other online curricular materials. Smart campus initiatives are automating a range of functions, and growing concerns about student safety are prompting a redoubled emphasis on both physical and cybersecurity.

WiFi is no longer an option

Tech-savvy students and smart campuses require a new kind of network, one which provides superior performance, scalability, reliability and manageability, while providing advanced analytics and automation. By addressing their network challenges, further and higher education institutions can position themselves to meet the needs of students and faculty for now and in the future.

Meraki meets the needs of today’s students and staff.

Colleges and universities are actively competing for students and confronting questions about the sustainability of the campus, all while tackling complex technology challenges. These key challenges include:

Student demands and expectations. Studies show students now bring an average of seven connected devices to campus, including mobile devices, laptops and computers, smart TVs and gaming consoles. One university, for example, has capped the maximum number of devices per student at 12 — a number that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

Students expect seamless connectivity everywhere they go on campus and enough bandwidth for work and play. As institutions compete for incoming students, reliable digital access is a must-have.

The campus experience. While connectivity is a requirement, digital services that accentuate the campus experience can be the differentiator that helps colleges and universities attract and retain students and faculty. Students expect simple online processes to register for classes and receive relevant information as they go about their daily tasks. Many colleges offer applications that notify students when their laundry is done, allow them to send assignments to the library printer remotely, and provide them with location-enabled alerts about events, directions and coupons as they walk by the bookstore or dining facilities.

Academic needs. Colleges and universities are developing plans to integrate digital content into traditional lecture halls and classrooms. Plus, online programs and blended learning opportunities allow students to livestream or view captured video
of lectures, removing worry of missed classes or snow days. For example, DeVry Education Group, a collection of eight institutions offering programs in business, health care, law and technology, plans to roll out video-connected classrooms where students can wirelessly connect to the whiteboard on their devices — whether they’re in or out of class.

Smart campuses. Today, more than eight in 10 higher education institutions are either using or plan to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology, according to CDE research. Many start with low-hanging fruit, such as adding internet-enabled controls to lighting, HVAC and other building systems to save costs. Plus, IoT will drive the connected services students and staff expect in their day-to-day experiences, from targeted notifications from appliances like washing machines and printers, to automatic notifications that can help students navigate academic buildings and learn about nearby activities and events. Doing so will dramatically increase the number of connected devices, increasing reliance on the network.

Security. Across campuses, there is an expectation to assure the physical safety of students and staff, as well as to protect both campus networks and the
confidential student information and research data they contain. Implicit in this is securing student and staff devices, as well as the growing number of IoT devices
— all of which are targets for malware and other cyber attacks. Institutions must balance the need for security with the need for students and staff to have access to relevant information.

Data, analytics and the cloud. As in the corporate world, the volume of available data on campuses creates new opportunities for analytics. In a 2017 CDE survey of 138 higher education officials, 46 percent said they were interested in implementing data analytics solutions and 64 percent identified data- driven decision-making as the top perceived benefit.

By choosing Cisco Meraki wireless access points, your college will benefit from increased network capacity and speed and central and local IT staff will have better network visibility through the web-based Meraki dashboard.

Contact us to find out how we can help your college with its Meraki deployment.