Cheap data a game changer for N.U.S. students

Access to cheap data is proving to be a game changer for many university students, as they go online to access lectures as well as upload assignments during the state of emergency.

Five undergraduate students who currently study at the National University of Samoa (NUS) told Samoa Observer that they spend between T$10 to T$20 a week on data to access their online learning modules as well as upload assignments.

A first-year bachelor of education student, Blessing Lupe Tevaga, said she spends about T$15 on mobile credits and utilises a Vodafone Samoa student-focused package that offers free access to links and apps.

"Vodafone provides free access to all school links such as Gmail, Google and an online Moodle app for every university student. I'm online most of the time, firstly because I have online lectures and secondly to kill the time. We don't have much to do and I'm sure everyone is always on their phones and other gadgets,” she said.

“I don't spend much on credit because I get to receive free bundles whenever I top-up my student SIM. I spend $15 weekly and that goes for every other week since the lockdown."

For N.U.S. tourism student Miracle Tuiletufuga, her weekly data expenses would normally top T$20 and she would spend under 20 hours online, doing assignments as well as reviewing lecture notes.

"I spend $20 weekly and that's $5 every two days, it is unusual how parents are starting to ignore how kids are always on their phones because of their online lectures and updates for COVID-19. I spend 17 hours straight online to complete assignments and to start reviewing other notes because we are receiving a lot of assignments already.”

But Francini Iuli Esera, who also studies at the N.U.S., fears the impact of spending too much time on the internet, telling Samoa Observer that parents should monitor their children’s online activities. 

"I only spend $10 on mobile credit in a week, I don't think it is necessary to spend too much if you consider the effect of having data every time. Children are addicted to online gaming and other apps most definitely not online classes and school programs,” she said.

The free access that N.U.S. students get to the university’s online Moodle app through Vodafone Samoa, is working wonders for second-year bachelor of commerce student, June Emma Solia.

"I spend about four hours online when I'm working on an assignment and replying to an email,” she stressed, before revealing she uses the $5 data bundle as students get free data, when they recharge their student SIM card. “I don't spend a lot of money on credit because we have free access to the online Moodle app and every other school links we just need to download the Moodle app.”

But having access to the internet is much more than just online lectures and assignments for N.U.S. first-year bachelor of arts student, Hanna Han Alalatoa.

Online entertainment as well as updates on the COVID-19 global pandemic are just as important for her.

"I don't think I have left my phone for a whole day, and I go online mainly for entertainment and for updates on COVID-19. The only time I don't go online is when I don't have data or credit"

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