Over the past year, working and studying remotely has become increasingly necessary and prevalent. This has meant that the technology and software which allows students to function from home in the same way as they would if they were on-campus has grown too. Supplying remote access to each user has become a priority.

In higher education settings, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and remote access to resources and materials has become a popular solution within higher education organizations to offer remote working solutions to both students and staff.

But what is RDS? In this article, we will cover what RDS and RDP are and how they provide remote services, the advantages of deploying RDS and the disadvantages of RDS so that you can make an informed decision for your higher education setting.

What is RDS/RDP?

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a simplified way of describing software that is run on a single server to create a remote environment for users on other devices. RDS is also sometimes known as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), but this is the same software that creates the same virtual desktop environment for users.

This means that users are able to connect to an operating system (OS) or a ‘virtual machine’ remotely while sharing both the applications and the hardware associated with this. They can then access this remote desktop from any computer which is able to run RDS.

When it comes to the application of RDS, it can be very beneficial for students because many users are able to access the same environment. However, there are some customisable aspects for each individual user on the server. RDS is not accessed via the user’s own centrally hosted PC, and the system is less bespoke than other solutions such as VDI.

Advantages of RDS

RDS has a range of incredible benefits when introduced in a higher education setting.

Continuity of education

A pressing concern for universities, especially across the past twelve months, has been creating a learning environment that provides continuity of education for students to work remotely. RDS allows for this with ease; whether students are on-site or remote, the desktop services remain the same.


RDS is also an inexpensive solution when compared to other, similar virtual desktop solutions. This can be a vital component of choosing RDS. It can be a much more cost-effective option when it comes to the expenses associated with licensing, which can become expensive with a large student and staff population.

Quick to implement

One of the biggest advantages of RDS is that it’s extremely quick to implement. This can be an essential factor when implementing new technology solutions during turbulent times and can be an added benefit if you have an exceptionally busy IT department that does not have the time to spend learning how to manage more complex alternatives, as well as support students and staff in the use of them. It also has low maintenance requirements after implementation than other remote working solutions.

Multiple users access the system

With RDS, multiple users are able to access the same operating system at the same time, making it a great choice for group work, as students have access to the same environment. This can feel much more like a classroom setting that you might expect from a virtual solution, which can help to improve student focus as they feel as though they are in a traditional classroom environment.

Device compatibility

Since students often have a variety of different devices, it is important that your remote systems are compatible, and RDS has no device compatibility issues and can be accessed by any student with an internet connection. This opens up the range of devices that students can access the system on and makes it accessible for all students using a remote computer to study.

Disadvantages of RDS

Before making a decision about whether RDS is the right solution for your organization, there are some disadvantages to be aware of. While RDS has many benefits, the drawbacks may lead to an alternative solution.

Risks of downtime

RDS is not the most up-to-date choice when it comes to remote working solutions so there are some risks of downtime. This can impact on student experience, creating breaks in education that can be detrimental and frustrating. This type of poor user experience may be enough, in and of itself, to make some higher education organizations think twice about implementing RDS.

Resource and access issues

It can be difficult when implementing an RDS solution to be sure that all students have access to the materials they need at the same time. If, for example, you have a single user taking up too many resources, this can also prove detrimental to the experience and education of other students.

As students are unable to access the resources they need, when they need them, they may become less engaged in their education; a challenge that can already be an issue with students working remotely.

Short-term solution

RDS is not suitable as a long-term solution. It is not easily scalable for students and staff, nor is it future proof, meaning it will need to be replaced with a different solution over time. This may mean that, even though RDS is cheaper than other options, it is not cost-effective over a longer period of time.


Another reason why RDS may not be the right choice for an organization is that the security is not stringent enough to keep data as safe as alternative solutions. In contrast to other desktop virtualization solutions, RDS does not offer the best security. It is also not cost-efficient enough to work alongside BYOD solutions.

Overall, many organizations find that RDS works better as an interim solution in order to reduce specialist campus labs and enable virtual labs. When it comes to a long-term solution for remote desktop needs, there may be some other solutions that will work more effectively and for more years to come.

When looking at the benefits of RDS as a solution, it’s easy to see why many higher education organizations may opt for it as a short-term solution during the current climate. However, if online learning and remote access to university software and resources becomes a more long-term solution, more stable and complex virtual desktop solutions may be a better choice. Investing in and getting to grips with them now could be a great way to save both money and time in the future.

If you’d like to find out more about remote working solutions for your higher education organization, please contact our expert team today.