How Well Does Your University Cater For Laptop Users?

How Well Does Your University Cater For Laptop Users?

I went to university so long ago that I was the only person in my year who even owned a laptop, and it didn’t have a hard drive. Things have changed since then, but the ability of campuses to cater for a lecture theatre full of students toting their beloved notebook computer still varies a lot.

At Deakin University in Geelong for Bar Camp Geelong over the weekend, I was fairly impressed with the at-seat desk options on offer in the lecture theatre. As you can see in the picture, they’re large enough to give resting space for a full-sized 15-inch notebook, which is better than the armrest-style desks I see in many other locations. With that said, there wasn’t much in the way of obvious power outlets.

How well does your campus provide for the inevitable notebook onslaught? Tell us what works — and what doesn’t — in the comments.


  • Murdoch University in WA has recently upgraded its ‘common’ area in the library with many more power points and desks for people to study with laptops but the rest of the library and university in general is pathetic for power points. Desks in the library are ok but still some lecture theatres with the flip over tables are perhaps a little small. Majority of the theatres have bench tables that are fine.

    Wireless internet coverage is great throughout the entire campus though. (and as of 2011 FREE!)

  • Just on a side note, I study with Monash through Open Universities and some of the subjects require you to post or fax your assignments in, and do not allow any form of online submission (including email). A bit backwards and surprising really.

  • I’m currently enrolled at Macquarie Uni, whilst there is a wireless lan coverage over most of the campus, it struggles around peak times, running at almost dial-up speeds.

    My HP-mini was destroyed by a rotating arm desk when it inevitably rotated when I was leaning back in a chair.

    They are in the process of upgrading lecture theaters to include power points below each chair, which is a plus

    • Haha, yeah. The amount of people I’ve seen that happen to. Especially in E7B-T1, as the COMP lectures probably have a 60-70% laptop-to-person ratio.

  • CSU Bathurst has the arm-rest style tables. If you’re right handed, rocking a netbook, using a mouse, and then rest your arm on the table; expect everything to go flying – those desks are simply not designed to have the weight of your arm on the side where it flips down.

    I haven’t been into the Uni for a couple years now, but when I was there, power points were hard to come by in any of the lecture halls.

  • UWA has very mixed facilities to accommodate laptops. Newer facilities such as the Science Library and the Business School have excellent access to power and wifi, whereas most of the lecture halls and the old Reid library are kind of lacking. The wifi on our campus used to be horrible, but since they introduced the 802.1x system with 1GB limit per day instead of VPN with 10MB per day, it has got a lot better

  • RMIT (City Campus) is pretty decent. Most of the seats in lecture rooms & theatre’s have those slide-out-from-the-side laptop/note desks which aren’t great for massive laptop, but perfect for anything 13-inches and under.
    Library in Building 8 could do with more spare desks and power outlets however, espeically in the newly freed up space upstairs! Whilst my Mac is fine for hours, many of my mates suffer through a lack of available power outlets.

  • Curtin University is very supportive of laptops, whether the individual lecturers are is a different matter. Some lecturers ban laptops from their lectures, whereas is smaller classes the lecturers will assume that students will all have laptops with them. (Saves the lecturer from having to print out notes, etc).

    But 95% of the campus is Wifi covered with only the occasional black spot.

    • In the larger lecture theaters the wi-fi can be very dodgy, but in general the wi-fi is good at Curtin. Some of the tables such as in Hadyn Williams are horrible, for both laptops and wrting notes in general.

      In the library power points are hard to come by, once the lower levels fill up all the powered carousels get taken, and the only free power points in the library are in remote places, it would be a lot better if the power points for the powered carousels had more than one socket.

      In general though Curtin is pretty good, espically if you’re in a Club and can go to a clubroom for a powerpoint (although the wi-fi is dodgy in the Computing and Humanities common room).

  • As a Deakin student, I can atest to the quality of the above pictured desks, however the vast majority of lecture theatres do have the mentioned armrest-style desks.
    And all lecture theatres suffer from a lack of available charging options for laptops meaning if you have a day of lectures, leave the laptop at home!

  • At my university, the library is equipped with desks and power-points with wifi. I have a 10 inch netbook and it’s the perfect size for lecture theatres, although the seat holders aren’t that big to hold a 17inch laptop, and sometimes the fold downwards, so you may have to hold your laptop tight just in case.

    Nevertheless, wifi is provided all around the campus, and the campus buses are equip with wifi, so for the daily commute between campuses, it’s great to get on the net – pretty reliable and around 3-4Mb/s

  • The University of Newcastle has poor support for laptops in lecture theatres, which doesn’t bother me as I consider hand written notes to be much better during a lecture. In the two libraries there are plenty of powerpoints and strong witless signals. There are also facilities to connect laptops to the university LAN via ethernet in the main computer area of the larger library, allowing printing to the libraries printers, and also Internet access for anyone still without wireless access.

  • Laptops are horrible to use in most lectures apart from the occasional use in comp science lectures. While I had a 14″ laptop with plenty of battery in uni, I found it much better to have a print out of the lecture slides and write my notes by hand either on the print out of the slides, or in a notebook. Try drawing a diagram on your laptop and soon you will release you are leaning towards not bothering, especially considering boot time.

    UQ has campus wide WiFi since 2005 with plenty of power points in common areas. Lets be honest I’d rather have extra lab facilities than power points in lecture theatres where you are only going to be for a max of 2 hours, just run on battery if you need the laptop.

  • Whilst the seats shown cater for the 15″ laptop, they do not cater for the 6’4″ human.

    I think making seats cater for taller people should be more of a priority than making them cater for people with laptops. My back will be grateful.

    • Deakin uni libray at waurn ponds campus has secure lockers where you can charge your laptop while you have a break. However, if you have 5 hours straight of classes….

  • QUT has the silly swivel armrests, which have almost send my netbook flying on a number of occasions. There are usually 2-3 power points with two plugs each in each lecture hall, so you learnt where these were and got in early or brought a power board.

    WiFi was fairly reasonable, and during 2010 was unmetered, but that didn’t last long 😛

    I think, in time this will get better, but I just completed my degree, so no longer care 😀

    • QUT is also very good for printing services, you can add credit quite easily at a lot of places around the uni, you can then print to colour or black and white print queues over wifi from in the park if you wish, then pick it up at a printer which is located in any building nearest to your lecture. The uni seems to be working on some interesting ‘cloud’ tech with regard to file sharing and storage, some portions of this are online, others seem to be based on opt in by the lecturer for their particular course, others are dead in the corner witing for usability/relvance to improve.

  • Wifi coverage at the Australian National University is pretty good, but in almost all of the lecture theatres I’ve been in, power points are scarce as hen’s teeth, and the rotating desk arms on seats have a tendency to flip over if you’re not careful.

  • At QUT (the university for the real world – hah) most of the major lecture theatres were useless for laptops. However after attending many lectures from the back rows, it would seem all people do is fart about on facebook or watch youtube than actually take notes.

  • Recently graduated from RMIT.
    Mostly they had good facilities for notebooks on campus including a decent wifi network.
    The major lecture theatre on the Bundoora East campus (the engineering campus) had the most useless, swivel-out desks though. Even the slightest weight toward the rear end of the desk would see the desk twist back into place and your books would go flying. This happened without fail at least a 3 times a lecture. So laptops were solely confined to laps in that room.

  • University of Queensland seems to have fairly good support. Wifi throughout the whole campus, most of the lecture theatres I’ve been to are big enough for laptops and there are work stations in many of the library with powerpoints. Could be better I guess but you could say that about anything. It’s pretty good at the moment 🙂

  • UWA has reasonable facilities, on average, with some being great and some being pretty shit. Notably, physics and engineering are often dead zones for wifi and mobile data (ironic at all?). Some lecture theatres are good for laptops, some make it hard enough to write notes on paper, let alone laptops.
    Though tbh i agree with some of the above comments that laptops are not needed in most lectures and usually just serve as a distraction.
    I mean, what are you going to do while the lecturer is doing his best to fill your head with knowledge, run a simulation on it in mathematica? You dont have time for that crap…
    I dont know, maybe arts and business lectures are different.

    Ok, i strayed a bit there, but overall I would rate UWA above average with laptop accomadation on campus.

  • University of Queensland (St Lucia Campus) is fantastic. Power points everywhere, and a campus wide WIFI network technology called Eduroam, which works flawlessly and without requiring constant logins.


  • The refurb of the UNSW library has changed my life, bean bags, plentiful power outlets, leisure seating, bean bags, its the bomb. The Uniwide network is also available across many of the most popular spots (including cafes & all lecture theatres & most tutorial rooms) but still not always available in those spaces where people wouldn’t really use it anyway, which makes sense.. oh & did I mention unmetered!? Architecture students wet dream ;P

  • Monash Uni, Caulfield campus student here. Library has a bajillion power points everywhere for you to hook up your various electronic devices. I guess the lecture theaters fold out tables are okay, but they are all slightly slanted do your notebooks, pens and sometimes my laptop slides back towards me which I find incredibly annoying.

    I do a design course which requires the use of programs such as photoshop and illustrator, so taking notes on my laptop or iPhone is a part of my natural uni life nowadays. Submitting is all very digital too. I think the uni has unmetered access too, the wifi is good enough to go across the uni, but they do specify it will be stronger at certain points.

  • Related, in Turkey which is 5 years+ ahead of Australia in digital, hosts thousands of European and other students; three off campus digital phenomena put Australia in the shade.

    One ISP provides free fast wifi throughout Turkey in all cafes, bars, public hotspots etc. using one personal login code, and additionally a major coffee chain has banks of high desks with electric and cable sockets.

    Here in Budapest I have fast free wifi in park outside, free access to fast wifi is pretty much a human right.

  • University of Newcastle upgraded wifi infrastructure to an acceptable level a year ago, but still cripple access with a proxy that blocks pretty much all ports except 8080.

  • I go to Deakin in Geelong so I thought those seats looked familiar! Completely agree about the benches, they are huge and definitely fit a 15 incher. There are no power points in the lecture theatres, I’ve looked everywhere and haven’t found any… Lucky Macbook Pros have extremely decent battery life!

  • I’m really wondering as I’m applying for uni next year (already been accepted into one) wondering about three universities if anyone has any RECENT experience with these?

    1) CPU (Brisbane Campus)
    2) RMIT (Bundoora Campus)
    3) Macquarie University (Sydney / Ryde)

    Was wondering how their desks are for lectures / classes and if there are laptop chargers available?

    Situation is at the moment I have only been given an old gaming laptop (can’t afford to buy a new one) so it lasts about 1.5 hours off charge at max (so say an hour to be safe) , was free so no complains but I need to use this for university also, I have no money to buy a new one so that is not an option. So yeah again just wondering how their desks are for lectures / classes and if there are laptop chargers available….. thanks in advance.

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