According to a BBC report, the universities worldwide are considering their email facilities to be managed and hosted on Google servers, in a way that the addresses and domain name still remain the same – but underneath the bonnet, it’s a service provided by Google. First one to do so is Trinity College Dublin. There are many universities in queue waiting to make a switch. Apart from the advantages that Google Inc. has with such a move, the universities and the students also have a few advantages.
The major concern a student has with the university email service is that (s)he has to manage two (or more) separate email accounts – the other one by an external service provider to make it permanent. Now with the switch, students shall be able to use the same account even after they have passed out. Moreover, the huge amount of email storage that Google provides is not possible for a university computing/network facility.
Universities won’t have to employ qualified personnel to manage their email networks, or to maintain separate email servers for their alumni email accounts. Google is also offering its educational tools as a side bonus.
I have two concerns with such a move, one technical and other social. I don’t know if Google has IMAP(S) email service. I won’t use web-based email interface or POP. But switching to IMAP(S) (or providing it as an extra) should not be hard for Google. The social concern is of privacy. It is now known to everybody that Google retains its users’ data (even after they’ve deleted it) for 18 more months.