Advanced video link unveiled in Wales

October 18, 2002

Europe's largest and most advanced internet-based video-conferencing network for further and higher education was launched in Wales this week.

All 37 Welsh universities and colleges will be able to share teaching and research with each other and with institutions across the world via 84 state-of-the-art videoconferencing studios.

The network, the first in the UK to cover both further and higher education, has taken two and a half years to set up and is believed to be one of the most technically advanced in the world. It will have a central support service.

Students will be able to take part in courses and lectures delivered by leading experts in their fields of study hundreds or thousands of miles away, and Welsh institutions will be able to export expertise locally and globally.

During the development of the project, students in marine environmental protection at the University of Wales Bangor received lectures from experts in Cape Town, and 200 students at eight further education colleges simultaneously received lectures from experts as part of an entrepreneurial skills degree course at the University of Glamorgan.

The system has been created with £5.5 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the National Council ELWa and the European Union. Running costs will be low because the video suites are linked to the internet via the UK's academic network, Janet.

Project manager Robert Symberlist said institutions using the facilities would be building on years of experience of videoconferencing in higher education.

Welsh Assembly education minister Jane Davidson launched the network.

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