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Beyond the News

Network Support After Dark

Most institutions not offering 24/7 helpdesk support
University Business, April 2012

Few students—traditional or nontraditional—complete their work within the 9-5 work day. Rather, libraries and dorm rooms are bustling late into the night with students burning the midnight oil. But, according to findings from the 2012 ACUTA (The Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education) ResNet Survey, only 9 percent of colleges and universities offer 24/7 network support.

Other helpdesk findings show that, while not 24/7 support, nearly two-thirds of institutions do offer more than 40 hours of support per week; another 17 percent offer more than 60 hours. Eight percent of institutions outsource a portion of their network helpdesks, with nearly 57 percent of those who outsource offering 24/7 support.

Kent State University (Ohio) is one institution that is able to provide round-the-clock support by combining in-house and outsourced resources. “Distance learners are often working adults who study after their day job,” says Edward Mahon, vice president for information services and chief information officer. “Traditional students work in collaborative groups late into the night. We’re always looking at ways to better serve our community.”

That’s why the helpdesk is outsourced after hours. Members of the campus community can call or chat online to have their issues addressed. They can even schedule a time for a helpdesk representative to call them at a time they know they won’t be busy. An online “knowledge database” of 4,500 articles is available for students who don’t mind troubleshooting on their own.

“All of us are a little bit different, so we try to have three or four solutions available that help with the type of interaction the users want,” Mahon says. He notes that the community appreciates the after-hours support, and the helpdesk receives an average of 30,000 calls a years.