College gives up on email - corporates next?

A snippet from the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education (an American trade mag for tertiary teaching staff) says that Boston College is to stop giving its new students email accounts. Instead, it'll provide a forwarding service that sends anything sent to studentname@bc.

A snippet from the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education (an American trade mag for tertiary teaching staff) says that Boston College is to stop giving its new students email accounts. Instead, it'll provide a forwarding service that sends anything sent to studentname@bc.edu to the student's own personal email.

The thinking behind this is that these days, every student has an established digital identity before they join. There's no reason for the college to provide an expensive email service which just gives the students an additional address that they won't use very much anyway, will take extra management and provides very little. The college looked at outsourcing email to Google or Microsoft - both of whom offer free education-targetted services which are becoming increasingly popular among college administrations - but decided even that level of service wasn't needed.

Colleges and universities have often led the way in corporate IT, being some of the first organisations to provide computer time, email and network access to their members. These moves, both to outsourcing email and to abandon it altogether, may well be replicated in commerical enterprises. After all, if your personal email is robust and secure, why do you want a second one?

It's a controversial choice, though. There are concerns about security, spam, compliance and maintenance: students often change their free email provider, for example, so how could the college be sure its important emails were getting through? The college is confident that these aren't serious issues and the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

(I'm quite tempted to set my own corporate email to forward everything to my personal Gmail, by way of experiment. Anything that gets me away from the usability car-crash that is Outlook is worth a deal of pain...)