Mixed reaction to 2013 iPad giveaways

ABOUT 11,000 iPads will be given away to staff and new students by the University of Western Sydney in the coming weeks — but not everyone is happy about it.

Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, the vice-chancellor in education, said the give-away was part of a $35 million IT program at the university.

"The iPad will be a way for students to reach more online and web-streamed material from wherever they are and attend class for high value-added interactive and face-to-face learning," she said.

"The use of mobile devices such as iPads is integral to the skill set that graduates need."

First-year business and law student Carli Heald, 18, said the iPad handouts was "a bit of a surprise, and very generous", when she was offered a place at UWS.

"It will definitely put me ahead of a lot of other students," she said.

The 16GB iPads, with retina display, retail for $539 but current students will receive a $50 subsidy on textbooks.

On the Student Representative Council's Facebook page, Rhiannon Storm said: "Why would they be giving away 11,000 iPads when students who have been here longer only receive a book voucher worth less than half the price?

"Not a good way to start the second year of my degree!"

The university has also been criticised by a teachers' union for introducing the program when it has cut staff and courses.

On the academic website The Conversation, National Tertiary Education Union state secretary Genevieve Kelly said the university should reverse its plans to cut courses.

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