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Fixing IT: Union opens student computer shop

Another new addition to the campus this week comes in the form of Union Computers. This new shop is run by eight student volunteers in order to help other University of Sussex students who have an issue with their desktop or laptop. The university’s IT services (ITS) does not fix broken laptops or desktops, and usually provides students with a list of places in town where they can get their problem fixed.

The project is the brainchild of Josh Jones, who was the Students’ Union Education Officer last year.Hesan Yousif, the Students’ Union IT and Web Manager added that the project “has been set up as a not for profit service run by students for students to provide an easily accessible and affordable computer advice, servicing and repair service.

“The service aims to help students out with various questions, problems and issues with their technology, be it a PC or Apple laptop/desktop or peripheral.”

Union Computers’ presence on campus will be a blessing for many who need to have their laptops and desktops repaired for a reasonable price. Prices range from £5 for a Software Clean Install of Windows or OS computers to £24 for over 250 GB of data backup. The scheme will also provide students with free advice, initial diagnosis, a warranty Check and Send and a health check if needed.

Union Computers is under the control of the Students’ Union and is in no way connected to IT services, nor is it centrally funded by the university. If a student has a problem connecting to the internet or need some software installed, IT Services is still the place to go. For any issues relating to a desktop or laptop, students no longer need to pay high fees to ensure their computer is fixed.

One second year student welcomed the addition to campus, saying: “I am surprised that there was not a computer repair service before. It will be much easier for students who don’t have enough funds to get their PCs fixed.” The Students’ Union said, “Currently the service is being design and operated by eight volunteer  students facilitated by Union staff but applications are coming in all of the time.”

The Union added that they were “confident that this service will be very successful due to a combination of the commitment and skills of the volunteers themselves.”

The  Union added that  the scheme offers “fantastic value for  money with students being able to save an  average of £100 on most jobs compared with high street prices. As  proof of this the service has not yet even opened and we have already  had almost ten customers.”

Union Computers can be found on the first floor of Falmer House, in the space where Unisex once was. ITS on campus has also made changes to its structure as part of the university’s ‘Proposal for Change’, which aims to save the university £5 million a year from 2010 onwards. This is in order to fund further growth within the university.

The university says that the reasons for making changes and shrinking the IT department are “to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IT services across campus, and also to meet the needs of the majority of the university community.”

The university hopes the alterations will “enable IT Services to better support the University’s growth agenda.” Many jobs have been lost in several departments across the university including IT services. The university said that these redundancies have been made “to reduce posts in areas where IT Services was overstaffed.”

A total of eight jobs were lost with two initial posts being created. It is hoped that these changes will help deliver better services across the university, particularly to Windows users, who make up 80 percent of computer users within the student body.

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