"Students are worried about deadlines": University of Northampton student speaks out over cyber attack

"There’s definitely an air of disappointment."

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 5:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th March 2021, 11:52 am
University of Northampton

A student at the University of Northampton has spoken out about a "huge" cyber attack on the establishment's IT services.

The university said it was hit by hackers on Wednesday (March 17) and confirmed that it is working with experts to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

The attack reportedly brought the IT services to its knees. It is not yet known if, or how much, data was compromised.

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The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained how those studying at the university are feeling at the moment.

They said: "Students are worried about deadlines, the lack of resources and the inability to attend online lectures. On top of that, there’s definitely an air of disappointment. The university seemed to keep it a secret for as long as possible, and have offered very little support for students worried about their bank details, personal information, and upcoming submissions.

"Many students have had to add lecturers on Facebook and get their phone numbers. Others have been told that their deadlines simply cannot be extended and they’re going to have to ‘work around’ it.

"Equally, lecturers cannot access and mark any online submissions, or even have students email them work, as the email system is also down.

"We understand that for security reasons the university may not want to completely unveil its plans, but we would also appreciate some sort of alternative learning method, because we are currently sat twiddling our thumbs as deadline day inches closer."

This newspaper asked the university a set of question. Here's what a spokesman said:

What support is in place for students who have been hacked?

The spokesman said: "Our technical team is currently working to establish exactly what data has been affected. If we learn that an individual’s data has been more severely impacted, they will be informed immediately."

Why aren't some students allowed to have deadline extensions?

The spokesman said: "We appreciate and understand students’ concerns about this and are working to act on the feedback we’ve received. We have issued details of deadline extensions to date and we will continue to update them regarding any further adjustments."

Why are students "twiddling their thumbs", what learning material are there for them to get on with?

The spokesman said: "A number of temporary work around solutions to enable online teaching have been rolled out to support students and staff. Covid-secure face-to-face learning and access to our physical library resources has continued."

The university said earlier this week that the attack has not affected staff's payroll.

A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said earlier this week: "I can confirm that together with the National Cyber Security Centre, we are working with the university to support them and investigate this cyber-attack. Enquiries are ongoing."

Another student, who alerted this newspaper to the issue and wishes to remain anonymous, said on Wednesday: "It's huge [the effects of the attack], unprecedented and has being going on for six days so far."

Undergraduate students generally pay £9,000 a year on average to study a three-year degree. Due to Covid, students are having to work remotely, are not able to go out to socialise and participate in typical student activities.

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