I hope to write more about Internet Chat on my blog at http://blog.paladyn.org/wp/ 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.
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.