How Newcastle University is enabling students to continue studies remotely during Covid-19

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Newcastle University has partnered with leading Cloud and Digital Services Provider, ANS to enable students to continue their learning, as they were unable to continue their studies on campus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to the lockdown, the university moved to online teaching which presented challenges around providing students with access to key software, resources and data.

With an urgent need to allow students to continue their learning at home, Newcastle University turned to ANS to help them deploy a Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) solution in the cloud.

Gary Atkinson, IT Infrastructure Systems Manager at Newcastle University explains, “When we entered lockdown software which either demands huge memory ability or was highly specialised was no longer easily available to students. We needed a solution which could be deployed quickly to give
students access to the resources and data that was readily available on campus from any location and any device.”

Working in collaboration with Microsoft’s Covid-19 emergency fund, ANS used their Windows Virtual Desktop Accelerator to work with the university to deploy a scalable WVD solution in just three weeks. The university has also leveraged Power BI to create a dashboard which tracks the usage of the
solution.

Deployed on the 19th April, there has since been just under 2,400 sessions with a high number of returning users. The data from their Power BI dashboard is also providing insights into how the service is being used and to a level of detail the university has never had access to before.

Atkinson adds, “Our primary goal was to reduce the impact that the pandemic had on our student’s ability to continue their studies. ANS worked tirelessly with us to deploy in just three weeks a project that would typically take upwards of 6 months to deliver. And thanks to this, our students can now continue to make progress on their courses remotely.

“Over the next few weeks we will continue to scale the solution and add more software based on the feedback from our students.

“In addition to this, WVD is a platform we can build upon and grow as it becomes engrained within the university, helping us to solve other technical challenges we have such as providing more specialist software.”

Andy Barrow, CTO at ANS commented, “Over the past few weeks and months, we’ve done everything we can as a business to help organisations to rapidly respond and evolve to the pandemic. When Newcastle University approached us with a pressing need for a scalable WVD solution, we ensured we worked collaboratively with their IT team to deliver an effective solution as quickly as possible. I’m delighted to see this is already having a positive impact across their student population and I look forward to continuing our work with the university.”