Information Services

Delivering teaching to students overseas - advice on bandwidth and firewalls

Guidance to academics and course designers who are building and running courses to countries with compromised access to materials, web sites and applications.

In general

Network connections

Delivering teaching remotely overseas can be a challenge. Some of your students may have poor bandwidth, the connectivity or latency from their country to the UK may be poor, or they may be in a country that is in a time zone that makes live lectures and interaction difficult. 


Some countries block access to some materials, websites or software applications, eg China, Iran, Turkey etc.  

Copyright/IP/Digital rights management

We encourage you to check with the Library if you are using any digital resources to ensure that access and copyrights do not prohibit that learning resources from being accessed or used overseas. In the first instance you should contact your School assigned academic or subject Librarian.

In addition, all contracts should be checked for locally used teaching applications to ensure that the license allows use of the application overseas and in the countries where your students are located.  For School purchased software, contact your local IT staff, for centrally provided software, please contact ISG or make a query through your learning technologist.

Delivering remote access to teaching materials and resources

Key advice

In general, access for any online service can be poor at times.  Our experience from delivering online degrees is that where broadband is flaky/non-existent then the solution is to design out reliance on synchronous methods and to ensure you have content available to learners in different asynchronous ways as per the University accessibility recommendations.  As always we advise you to look at the file sizes of the teaching material your off site students are required to download to keep this to a manageable size.  

Our general advice to use VPN where possible as a secure method to accessing University services. 

Using the VPN Service from China

Information to help you setup and connect to the University VPN Service from China.

Internet resources accessed from within countries with firewalls

Within countries with firewalls access to some external services may be blocked, and generally firewalls can cause lower connection speeds than you would experience in other countries, especially for high bandwidth or live online services.

 A number of key and common internet resources sometimes used by academics in teaching may be blocked in these countries such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Mendeley, SlideShare, etc.. Please be aware that students in these countries may not be able to access these resources if you include them in your courses.

 In addition:  

  • Many social media sites like Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vimeo, Flickr and Twitter  are also blocked 
  • Many news channels (like: BBC, The New York Times, Le Monde, France 24, The Epoch TImes, The Japan Times, Al Jazeera English, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, HuffPost, Wall Street Journal, Time, The Economist, …) are blocked.
  • Also some whole research facilities website are blocks (such as the NASA JPL) 

Here you can find a complete list for China.