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Rural Bay of Plenty students struggle to study remotely

May 7, 2020

Rural Bay of Plenty students struggle to study remotely

Internet issues face many students who left university flats for family homes. Photo: Brianna Stewart

Students learning remotely in rural Bay of Plenty are feeling the effects of unreliable internet connections in an education system affected by Covid-19.

A $15 million rural broadband upgrade package announced by the Government last month will come too late for many university students who struggled to participate in online classes without fibre connections.

The internet at Peyton Sheppard’s family home in Pyes Pa is impacted by the weather and how many other people on her road are using it.

“If it is cloudy it gets really bad,” says the University of Waikato Engineering student.

“I have lots of online tests and I have to make sure I’m done like 15 minutes early to make sure I have time to upload them.”

Peyton’s frustrations are echoed by Te Puna residents Roos van Gorp and Katrina Williamson.

Roos, studying a Bachelor of Animal Science at Massey University, says her Wi-Fi often drops out with five people using it at any time.

“It is very frustrating,” Roos says. “I would like to see improvement but I haven’t so far.”

She says it looks like some work has gone into putting fibre in her area but her street has not benefitted yet.

Katrina Williamsonsays she has issues with her internet glitching during her live classes and she often misses parts of what has been said.

“I can sit next to the internet box and it doesn’t help,” says the Law and Psychology student at Victoria University of Wellington,

Katrina’s neighbours are also building a retaining wall on their orchard and the noise is disruptive.

“There is continuous thudding that is not only super loud but it vibrates the entire house,” Katrina says.

She has tried wearing headphones and moving rooms around the house but still feels like her quality of work is impacted.

“It is mind numbing to try and study like that. It’s just really hard when your laptop is shaking.”

Katrina is unsure if she would have preferred to be studying during lockdown in her rural family home or her central Wellington flat.

She feels Tauranga is a better place to live for her mental health but Wellington is better for her study.

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