When I first started my Masters, we are required to sign up an email address with the university. This email address will be used for many login for other portals such as online registration and student portal. That’s the usual procedure. We get email address at the domain of perdana.um.edu.my. It’s an in-house email application, I think. Used by all including the staff except that staff will have different domain.
Halfway through my second semester, we were told that our email application would be migrated to email application powered by Google Apps. Once the migration was successful, I login for the first time. Same username and password from the old application but now the domain has changed to siswa.um.edu.my. I’m very impressed with the apps. It’s the same as GMaiL and I’m sure it has zero learning curve for most people as almost everyone owns a personal GMaiL account.
This Google Apps for University is just like the normal GMaiL that we use. It has the same services such as communication, document collaboration, chat etc. For a student, these are good enough features to ask for. The best thing for the university is this Google apps is free. Imagine how much cost it saves for the university. No need to maintain the students’ login accounts and storage for emails. We used to get only a few MB for our Perdana’s email storage and it’s very troublesome to keep deleting emails (even though most emails were not relevant as we subscribe to many different mailing lists). Now SiswaMaiL is just like GMaiL and we get at least 7GB and still increasing storage space. It means we no longer need to delete emails anymore. Haha!
Although many universities are said to be using this Google Apps as their students’ email application, I have also read about some universities are against it. The reason for rejecting is mainly due to security (among many other reasons too). Of course, Google has been using security as its selling point but there are some who think otherwise. As a matter of fact, how do you know your personal GMaiL account is 100% secure? Do you know who can view/read your email? Where are your emails sitting right now? Who has full access to them? Of course, we do not know for sure. Most probably, we are not supposed to know. Google has the rights to our emails in their user agreement for all we know as we never really read the agreement before signing up the email account. So at the end of the day, some universities really look into these details before rolling out email project as such.
In my opinion, I would recommend all users (from either personal, corporate or university) to use free apps such as Google Mail with a pinch of salt. Always know what you are doing, what you can get from it and how it can affect other aspects.