Borders College, the only Further Education College and the major provider of training in the Scottish Borders, has appointed converged solutions provider, Intrinsic Technology, to overhaul its entire voice and data network.
This project is part of a venture which has attracted major investment to modernise and provide state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities for further and higher education in the Scottish Borders. It will see Borders College, one of Scotland’s top colleges, and Heriot-Watt University’s world-renowned School of Textiles and Design and its School of Management co-locate to a newly redeveloped Scottish Borders Campus in a ground-breaking and innovative project for the provision of tertiary education in a rural setting.
The institutions recognised at an early stage that the legacy infrastructure available to them at the Campus would not provide the students and other stakeholders with the fast and effective communications they expect from today’s leading education establishments. Following a comprehensive tender and pre-sales process, culminating in a number of customer site visits, Intrinsic was awarded the contract. The new future-proofed IP network will provide wireless voice and data connectivity and increased bandwidth to support rising numbers of students and staff at Borders College and the new Scottish Borders Campus.
In addition, the College required a system that would service its entire estate, spanning a total of 8 geographically dispersed sites. As the existing system didn’t have the capacity to support converged services or new applications, Intrinsic proposed upgrading the network to a fully converged IP solution from Nortel and security provided by Cisco. A key factor in the proposal was the integration of aspects of Heriot-Watt University and Borders College so that effectively the two education institutions would share the same network services, promoting a closer working relationship as well as driving down costs.
With 6000 students enrolling at Borders College each year and around 800 further Heriot-Watt students on the new Scottish Borders Campus, wireless connectivity was fundamental to the solution enabling students and staff to work anytime, any place, anywhere. Indeed, students will soon be able to work remotely using the wireless access, for instance in the college grounds in the summer, the canteen or even the library, and staff will be more accessible via online forums without having to be on campus. A selection of IP wireless handsets will also be available to staff which can be connected to their personal extension number and enable staff to work around the Borders College buildings; this will be particularly useful for the Facilities team at the Campus, whose duties mean they must be mobile and contactable at all times.
New connectivity will also support a broad range of multimedia applications such as Instant Messaging, Unified Messaging and desktop collaboration. With students and staff wanting to benefit from new ways of working, instant messaging will enable ‘interactive classrooms’. Desktop collaboration with other faculties will enable up-to-date teaching documentation.
Carlyn Nicholls, computer systems manager, Borders College comments: “Intrinsic understood the challenges we face in delivering next generation education to an increasingly sophisticated student base. The solution we were looking for wasn’t just about reliable, fast and completely secure communications – those are all basic requirements; we wanted a solution that harnessed the latest technologies and applications to actually meet our business objectives and one that specifically met our requirement to share services with Heriot Watt University. Intrinsic proposed a solution and a methodology which did just that.”