The university currently provides email access via the outdated, and insecure, Exchange 2003 server software, produced by the Microsoft Corporation. This software is over 10 years old and is at the stage now that it will be no longer supported by Microsoft, which means no more software updates for "bugs" in the software, or for security related issues to keep your data secure.
In addition to this, the university provides a very minimal amount of storage (I believe 500 MB?), that is spread across the "G drive", email and personal web space. In the current climate, with ever increasing data storage requirements, the services that are provided by the university have become outdated and below a standard that is worthy of the time spent supporting them by university ICT staff.
I believe the university should switch these systems over to Google Apps for Education (see more information here http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/). This system is FAR superior to the current system managed by the university, and any other systems currently available for that matter, and switching across would be minimally disruptive, in fact, I would bet it wouldn't even be noticed. The system will allow you to use Google Mail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Sites and many many more of the excellent cloud based Google applications (see here http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/products.html), all with a whopping 25GB of storage spread across all services. This is a huge 50 times more storage for your needs.
Of course, this isn't all about the extra space. The whole system provides an excellent and much more productive environment to work in. It allows for easier access across multiple devices and architectures, such as PC, Mac, Phone, Tablet etc. By making it easier for you to do things, it will create more time for the more important areas of study, work, research and of course personal time.
The university has made clear some plans to switch to either Microsoft Exchange 2007, Microsoft Office 365 (which is the Microsoft equivalent of Google Apps) or Google Apps, but I get the feeling that Google is lower down on the list. The timescale for implementing these changes has yet to be released, but I feel that bureaucracy shall prevail and we will be unlikely to see any changes for some time. The university has a strong link with Microsoft, and I feel that choosing either of their services will be sub par in relation to Google Apps. At the very least I would like to see implementation of Office 365 however. Running an in house system via Exchange 2007 is unmanageable, and a bad use of resources in my opinion. The university certainly won't be able to match the level of service offered by the other systems and I think that you all deserve the best.
Please support this petition for a better environment to learn, work and research in. I'd much prefer Google Apps, but at the very least I think you deserve Office 365. The more people that lobby for change, the more likely the university are to make changes in this regard.
Doctoral Research Student
School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences