Using VPN to Access the University Network

This is appropriate to home computers on broadband or personal laptops used on public wireless networks. VPN is unnecessary on wired connections within Balliol.

Oxford University has many ‘Oxford-only’ resources which are only available from computers which are physically connected to the University network. VPN (virtual private network) is a method where a computer anywhere on the Internet can be made to appear as if it is physically connected to the University network. Typically people not living in College can install the VPN software and have full access through their home broadband connection to University services such as the Library databases, exam papers, administration interfaces, etc. Similarly the University resources can be reached via cable or wireless from an airport lounge or hotel room with VPN on a laptop.

What is required?

Firstly you need to install the specific Oxford University VPN client on your computer. This is a simple matter of downloading the software from the University and clicking on the program to install it. Secondly you need to set up an access password. Both these things can be done ‘off site’.

Fast-track details

1. One-off step: set a remote access password and download the VPN software

Visit https://register.it.ox.ac.uk/self/index and log in with your Single Sign On (SSO) email credentials.

oucs self-registration screen

From the left-hand side select ‘>>software

In the selection panel select ‘VPN Client’ and click the Submit button below. Click on the bold link for the version you require and save it to your computer. Install it by double clicking on the program. Accept all the defaults.

From the left-hand side select ‘>self registration

Under Password changing options, select ‘Reset a Remote Access password’. Set up a password for remote access – it does not affect your Nexus login; you can set a completely different password. Note the time at which the password becomes active. Your Remote Access password need not be the same as your Nexus password, e.g.

Nexus email

Username = ball1234

Password = TotallySecret-7

Remote access

Username = ball1234

Password = Somethingdifferent-7

2. Connecting to the University network

Run the Cisco VPN client (installed in step 1). Start/All Programs/Cisco/Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client/Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client. 

The first time that you use the software, you will need to type vpn.ox.ac.uk, then click Select. Type your remote access credentials (i.e. your SSO username and your remote access password) and then click Connect. After a few seconds, the login boxes should disappear and you can now access Oxford-Only resources.

Ending the VPN session

On a Windows machine you will see a closed yellow padlock appear next to the clock when you have VPN running. In this state all your web transactions are routed through the University network, you are operating under the University’s restrictions and you will be subject to their penalties. This is especially the case if you have been running peer-to-peer programs or downloading dodgy things. To end the VPN session, right-click on the padlock and select disconnect.