This article is directed towards Information Services at the University of Nottingham, as a partial follow-up to their ongoing dialogue with representatives of the student body.
Despite having been reassured that the age of IS service provision failing the student body during exam time is now far behind us, today has been awful.
For at least several hours earlier (at LEAST between 16.00 and 20.00 and continuing), webpages are inaccessible from ISCRAs, WebCT is down and the main University of Nottingham webpage unavailable.
Loss of service to some extent can be expected on any network, although 99% uptime guarantee would be the minimum acceptable to any company requiring a Quality Of Service agreement.
However ANY loss of service during exam periods is 100% NOT OKAY and Information Services needs to realise this.
You are NOT immune from responsibility just because you happen to (currently) be the sole provider of network support on campus. Press coverage of such failures of responsibility would not reflect favourably at all on this University.
Many, many promises were made to the student body last term about upcoming increases in reliability. It sounded good so that IS could be seen to be improving their service and thus taking responsibility for their position… but so far many of these have not been visibly met.
For example, some student course notes are located on WebCT because the University's PVCs and Department Heads continue to place huge emphasis on the transition of the University to a more internet-friendly academic institution: but now, with potentially no fewer than four hours left in the day until an examination day, hundreds of students have been left ALL afternoon without access to their course.
Today's service failures are an absolute travesty, reflecting the continued mismanagement of a very fragile system.
I hope this is taken incredibly seriously, alongside previous discussions tabled between IS and the student body. At the very least, we deserve a realistic explanation for the failures that occurred today.