I hope to write more about Internet Chat on my blog at http://blog.wp.paladyn.org/ at some stage as that is easier to update.
Being interested in such technical things I then created my own XMPP (Internet Chat) server. It took me less than a day to set up, so should be well within the capabilities of any university or company with an IT Department.
oxford-phab.paladyn.org - for members of Oxford Phab club - here is its XMPP Score
chat.paladyn.org - personal server for friends and family - here is its XMPP score
There are Internet Chat (XMPP) programs to run on just about every kind of computer. There is a list at http://xmpp.org/software/clients.html where you will probably find one which will run on your computer, or smartphone, or tablet.
I use Pidin and Gajim on my Linux Desktop, though both work under Windows too.
I use Conversations on my Android mobile phone.
My sister has an iPad, which worked with Monal, although on the iPhone it did not successfully connect to my Prosody server.