Students in Collingwood have been living without internet all year

We spoke to the students affected

Groups of students living in Collingwood College have been without internet access: some for three weeks, others since October last year.

For them, downloading homework, finding seminar reading on Duo, and sending emails has become virtually impossible. It directly contravenes the College's rental agreement, under the 'inventory' section, which stipulates that the University will provide internet access for every room.

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Photo: Samuel Kirkman

James, 22, has had this problem since the beginning of December, when he reported to CIS that there was "no longer any internet connection in his room".

Despite a chain of angry emails to CIS, he claims they only passed his problem around the department. After further complaints from students, following the recent loss of connection, he says the department told him that fixing the issue was "a priority". But that was three weeks ago.

The whole problem is made more galling, he says, by his discovery that the previous occupant of his room was left without wifi for the whole academic year.

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Photo: Samuel Kirkman

James also told The Tab that permanently relocating to his girlfriend's room is "driving him crazy", as he never has any time alone. The frustration is real when he can't open important scientific articles for his dissertation, he says, or simply reply to his supervisor's emails.

James doesn't understand why he should have to pay college fees for a room he cannot live in.

With college fees now rising above the maximum maintenance loan available, some might question whether living in college is worthwhile.

For others, the wifi speed is too intermittent or too slow to make studying in one's room efficient. Eleanor, like most other students on her corridor, has taken to sitting on the corridor outside her room.

Eleanor told The Tab: "It seems ridiculous that we pay so much money to live in halls and don't even have Wifi. I have to sit out it in the corridor just to do something as simple as sending an email. When I'm struggling to juggle grad scheme applications and write a dissertation, this is a huge setback".

Eleanor's college lease stipulates that the college will provide a 'study space' in exchange for the £7,269 the residents pay for a room. She thinks the University has failed in its side of the bargain.

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Some have suggested that 'pigeon post' might be faster than the wifi

Another student, Claire, 21, says she has been forced to resort to mobile data to be able to work in her room, free from distractions. The internet speed in her room is not strong enough to complete lengthy online forms or submit relevant documents, she claims, and she can't download any of the relevant reading for her dissertation.

Yet the internet is not just for work. Alisha, an international student, is upset because the poor signal in her room means she hasn't been able to talk to her family in Germany since the college lost connection, she says.

Resourceful students have suggested that pigeon post (via the college's dovecote) may currently be the most reliable solution. In the meantime, however, a peaceful protest has commenced with the use of post-it notes.

Image may contain: Brick, Window

Photo: Samuel Kirkman

Some of the connection issues, caused by faulty servers, have been fixed, but a considerable number of students are still unable to connect to the internet.

CIS worked on the servers and caused disruption to service this afternoon, bu the intervention, it is claimed, has left more students without wifi than before.

Students affected have also commended the work of Sahiti Shah, the JCR President, Principal Elliott and Vice-Principal Slater, who have brought the problem to the attention of Durham University's Vice Chancellor.

The University has been contacted for comment, and released the following statement this morning: “We are aware of ongoing issues with the provision of Wi-Fi access around Collingwood College and understand our students’ frustration at this situation. We intend to make a number of unoccupied bedrooms that have access to Wi-Fi available for booking for tasks requiring such access. Details will be communicated to students as soon as possible.”

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