Macquarie is the first university in Australia to provide students with customised Google e-mail accounts with Gmail for staff set to follow.
Macquarie has joined Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Trinity College in Dublin, Nihon University in Tokyo, Universidad Panamericana in Guadalajara and five US colleges, including Arkansas State University by launching Google Apps Education Edition on campus. Like most universities, Macquarie has traditionally provided students with a free e-mail account when they enrolled.
However, over a period of four days, Macquarie staff created some 68,000 new customised Macquarie Gmail student accounts for 31,000 current students and 37,000 recent graduates.
Macquarie's IT services director, Mary Sharp, said for starters, students now have two gigabytes of e-mail storage capacity, as well as IM capabilities with their contacts, and an online calendar that allows them to add classes, tutorials and meetings right from the Gmail interface.
"Students will also get the benefit of Google's powerful spam filtering and fast tagging and searching of e-mail," she said.
Although e-mails will continue to appear to have originated from, or been sent to, the student's Macquarie e-mail account, all data will reside on Google's servers rather than the University's.
Sharp said this will result in cost savings and the move to Google will free up time for IT staff to help students in other ways.
"Google is able to provide us 24/7 support; its expertise in the applications area is matched by its commitment to privacy and security," she added.
Sharp is keen to explore other ways in which the University can work with Google in the future in order to help students in their daily lives, but her immediate project will be setting up a further 6,000 Gmail accounts for Macquarie staff.
Google's A/NZ head of engineering, Alan Noble, said the company has always had a close relationship with higher education.
"We want to work closely with universities to help them implement smart use of technology and we're glad Macquarie is one of the first in the world to undertake this implementation," he said.
Google Apps Education Edition is a free service.