- NUI Galway wi-fi reinstated for some university services
- Public Internet not yet available outside of temporary access points
- Winter conferrings postponed to next Easter
NUI Galway have completed the first step of their recovery plan after a recent cyber-attack locked students and staff out of university systems.
Wi-Fi access via Eduroam has been reinstated for people on campus, but it is only available for university teaching platforms, such as Blackboard, MS Teams and university emails.
Public internet usage and access to other university networks will not be available until the second step of the recovery plan.
Speaking to SIN, NUI Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said that “Public access to the internet, including non-university sites, is still available on the old temporary system, but the full return of NUI Galway public internet access will not be established until the second step of the plan.”
“ISS staff are working through some tests on this and they will hopefully confirm as soon as possible when this will be available again. We were primarily focused on getting access to student networks like Blackboard back up and running as soon as possible,” he added.
This comes one week after temporary Wi-Fi access points were set up in certain places around campus, including in on-campus dwellings.
Speaking on the staggered internet loss in Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village, Ó hÓgartaigh confirmed that “Some of the rooms [in residencies] didn’t have access but some of the public areas did. The first thing we were keen to get back was internet access, even on a limited basis. That was a priority for us in the first week or so, and obviously containing the attack was the other priority.”
Many students have voiced their frustration with the ongoing network restrictions. Speaking to SIN, final year Music student Niamh Connor said that “The lack of access to Wi-Fi on campus and the lack of library resources have made the last few weeks very difficult. There haven’t been any extensions given for my midterm assignments and this has severely escalated my stress levels as a final year student.”
In response to the frustration expressed by many students, Ó hÓgartaigh says that “student’s pain has been greater than anyone else’s.” He added, “It’s been a really, really frustrating time. The fact that strangers can take it into their heads to disrupt people’s lives like this is something that I can’t wrap my head around. It’s very difficult to understand what motivates these people.”
Student Union President Róisin Nic Lochlainn has also been articulating the frustration that the SU have felt on behalf of students over the last three weeks. “The cyber-attack has wreaked havoc on all aspects of student life and has caused huge stress for so many students. From not being able to access the financial aid fund, the laptop loan scheme, lectures, emails and Blackboard, to student drivers having to pay and display €10 each day as a result of no access to the websites permit, to PHD teaching students having to sacrifice their own data and in some cases stipends. This situation really brought to light the importance of empathy in difficult circumstances in asking lecturers for extensions and patience.”
Winter conferring ceremonies at NUI Galway have also been cancelled as a result of the cyber-attack. President hÓgartaigh explained to SIN that the limitation of access to university networks has prevented staff from uploading student results.
He continued, “The timing has meant that we have not been able to prepare ahead for winter conferring ceremonies like we normally would have been able to at this stage. We are very, very disappointed.”
“Conferring in person was something we were hoping to get back to, but we are now thinking that they will be taking place over the Easter break of next year. We already have a week then for conferrings so we are thinking of moving the winter conferring ceremonies to be during that period, based on campus.”
Staff and students at NUI Galway have expressed their relief on the completion of the first step of university’s recovery plan. Paula Healy, Station Manager at Flirt FM, spoke to SIN about the challenges they have faced over the last couple of weeks.
“We were bouncing between campus and home for Zooms, our volunteer recruitment has been decimated, and we were running the radio station off a Wi-Fi dongle. It’s really dented the morale of staff and students alike – we’re all shattered! Getting Eduroam back is a huge relief, we can start rebuilding our semester. It reminds you that you can’t take services for granted and it pays to have back up plans in place.”
President Ó hÓgartaigh concluded by thanking students for their “patience” and “agility” during this time. He also added that he wants to commend students for their vigilance and hard work in the recent return to campus for the academic year.