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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 02:28 GMT 03:28 UK
Student unions offered free web service
student using computer
E-mail for students is part of the deal
The National Union of Students says it is going to use the internet to "revolutionise" the way individual student unions communicate with their members.

In a new strategy, the NUS is offering free web space, domain name hosting and e-commerce technology to put union shops online.

It claims that for those unions which already have websites, its offering will prove cheaper and give them editorial independence.

And it says it will "catapult" into cyberspace unions which are not yet connected, not least by providing them with a free computer.

The NUS says that 90% of students in the UK already have access to the internet, chiefly through the educational institutions' Janet network.

One of the benefits it says its alternative brings is autonomy for student unions from the institutions in which they operate and, with that, complete editorial freedom.

Online shopping

Part of its hosting package is an e-mail system on a secure server.

"This will allow students to carry their e-mail access with them when they are off campus and be part of an online student community," the NUS says.

Its "e-commerce zone" intention is to seek discount deals with companies wanting to sell to students, in part to fund the development of the NUS website.

"While the offers being made by different dot.com companies to a small number of unions remain tempting, we must remember that the decisions made this year will impact on what we will be able to offer students in the future," said the NUS national president, Andrew Pakes.

"How you interact with your students, the relationships you develop and the way in which students relate to each other is being revolutionised."

The NUS is working on its strategy with Lancashire-based internet company ITM, which runs the "student careers portal" Activate.

The union says ITM has "an understanding and commitment to the objectives of NUS and the work of the movement."

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