In previous posts on FedUC, we’ve discussed the benefits that Unified Communications (UC) technologies, such as video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions, could have for students and educational institutions.

In addition to delivering previously unavailable educational content and making the educational experience better and more immersive for students, these solutions can enable education institutions to share resources and operate more effectively and efficiently. They can also increase access to higher education for students that may not have been able to attend college before.

We recently came across two news items that we felt truly articulate this point and provide real world examples of how VTC can be used to increase access to higher education both at home, and abroad.

The first of these stories is about the VTC implementation at Saint Petersburg State University (SPBGU) in Russia, which is the alma mater for presidents Vladimir Putin and Dimitry Medvedev, and currently has a student body of over 32,000.

SPBGU is utilizing their VTC solutions to facilitate internal meetings, lectures and seminars – enabling them to educate more students and to accommodate larger numbers in lectures than what classrooms would traditionally allow. This is helping to decrease the cost of education while giving a much larger population of students access to classes.

In addition, the university utilizes VTC to promote the use of exchange programs and facilities by students, researchers and academic staff. The university currently cooperates with 230 higher education institutions across Europe, North America, Asia and South America. HD VTC solutions make it easy for SPBGU students to attend classes and access educational content from these institutions as well.

The second implementation that we wanted to highlight originates a little bit closer to home – Utah State University.

Utah State University (USU) consists of eight different campuses that each serve different geographic regions in the state. However, even with these satellite campuses, many students find it difficult due to family pressures, the location of their jobs or even just harsh weather, to take classes on campus.

To help ensure that a college education can be accessible to students from all areas of the state, USU has implemented a comprehensive VTC system that enables students to attend classes from even the most rural and remote area of Utah. According to a recent article in the Deseret News:

USU’s Logan campus is connected to 25 remote campuses and education centers across about 3 million square miles. About 12,000 USU students across Utah videoconference to see and hear their professors in real time.

This is an incredible way for USU to provide access to a college education to students from the rural areas in southeastern Utah that, according to the article, are not within 150 miles of a college campus. This is even more important for Navajo students who often drop out due to culture shock after leaving home to live on campus.

For students looking for higher education opportunities, geography and life outside of school can often be a challenge. By enabling students to attend classes via video, colleges and universities are eliminating issues created by geography and increasing the access that all students have to a higher education, regardless of where they live.