Bloxx Web Filtering Helps University of Cumbria Students Stay Safe Online
“The Bloxx solution has provided us with greater protection and peace of mind. In the two years we’ve been using it, it’s been great.”
Steve Greenshaw, Infrastructure Analyst, University of Cumbria
Formed in 2007, the University of Cumbria is one of the UK’s newest universities, bringing together Cumbria Institute of the Arts, St Martin’s College and the Cumbrian campus of UCLan. With campuses in Carlisle, Lancaster and Penrith, the university aims to promote an environment where diversity is celebrated and inventiveness flourishes.
The university’s wide-ranging mission includes: excellent provision of accessible lifelong learning; progressive and innovative teaching which inspires students to achieve their potential; a focus on research, scholarship and knowledge-transfer activities; and support of the development and regeneration of diverse and sustainable communities.
The university had identified a need for Web filtering but had no existing solution in place. With nearly 19,000 staff and students using the Internet across six different sites, the university had a large volume of Internet traffic to manage. It also needed to minimise the effect that personal use such as social media and streaming video had on bandwidth, as these were reducing Internet latency for academic and business activities. In addition, the university needed a solution which would meet audit and OFSTED requirements to provide protection for further education students when accessing online resources.
In 2010, the university called in Bloxx.
The university needed a solution which guaranteed continuity of service, and so purchased two Bloxx Impresa-3W Web filters which were paired to work in high availability mode. This ensured that the university’s Internet access, and the associated business-critical functions such as exams, communications, purchasing etc., were not affected in the unlikely event of one of the appliances failing.
The Bloxx filter’s real-time categorisation of web pages also met the university’s needs in terms of ensuring a safe online environment for students, and its ability to set varying permissions levels for a range of different users gave the university the flexibility it required.
The university is now able to limit access to social networking sites during teaching hours, which has removed the temptation for students to access these sites during classes. As Steve Greenshaw, Infrastructure Analyst at the University, explains,
“This is something that tutors had been asking for, and following agreement from the Students’ Union, we’ve been able to use the Bloxx Web filter to put this in place.”
Acceptable Use Policies were set up for specific groups, which allowed for differentiation not only between staff and students but also between Higher Education students and those under 18. This provides access to appropriate educational resources, but with additional protection for younger users as needed, as Greenshaw describes:
“The policies are mainly based around age, with the ‘Under 18 Student’ policy being a lot stricter on adult subjects and discussions. The Bloxx solution has provided us with greater protection and peace of mind with regard to our younger users.”
Greenshaw highlights the Bloxx Web reporting application as a key benefit:
“We’ve found the reporting to be very useful and detailed. The reports provide us with access to information on staff and student Internet usage, which are used to support disciplinary proceedings if required.”
The fact that usage is tied to the individual also allows the university to meet its auditing requirements. Furthermore, the technical support provided by Bloxx has been particularly impressive: “We had a Bloxx engineer on site for installation. The installation process was very efficient and the hands-on training the engineer provided was both relevant and useful.”
Greenshaw summarises: “We undertook a lot of research when we were looking for a Web filter, and the features offered by the Bloxx solution suited our needs and budget best. In the two years we’ve been using it, it’s been great.”