Students writing for Duke University's student newspaper have criticised the university's iPod programme, claiming that the decision to seed all freshmen with iPods was just a PR stunt.

"This year, the iPods were welcome gifts for the freshmen, but they failed to fulfill the lofty academic goals the administration had set. iPods are extremely well-suited as portable digital music players, but they are extremely limited devices that can only input audio information. iPods are primarily meant for music, and although they have some functions beyond that, iPods do not seem to translate well into academic use and benefit few students," claims The Chronicle.

PR stunt

The paper goes on to criticise Duke's recent decision to continue to give away iPods, albeit on a lesser scale, saying: "The University’s decision to continue the iPod program is a poor one - this year has clearly shown the limited academic use of the expensive devices."

The article also opined that giving out players only to students who enrol in certain classes is also a bad idea. "The selective distribution of iPods will create undesired incentives for students to enrol in certain classes, and the timing of the announcement shows that the program is nothing more than a marketing scheme," the reporter wrote.

"The iPod programme has appeared to be a PR move from the beginning, this seems to reaffirm the fact that the University is not interested in education as much as it is interested in its image. Duke is giving away iPods, even after the iPod program was a failure, because it will put it in the national spotlight again and because it hopes to use the iPods to lure a strong freshman class," concludes the report.