One of the things that has surprised me during the project to implement a new VPN (more news of which will come shortly), is the number of people who wonder why anyone would want to use the VPN on a mobile device.
The obvious reason to use a VPN is to connect to the University and use the resources as if you were present on campus. Given that Google Apps is available without going through the University, there is less need for that these days.
It is probable that the only University resources a remote worker is likely to need to connect to are likely to be resources only useful on a desktop or laptop computer, making the need to use a VPN on a mobile device seem unnecessary.
However there is a very good reason for using a VPN on a mobile device especially for people who travel a great deal and connect their mobile device to many different sorts of networks. And that is to gain a level of assurance that the network traffic to and from that mobile device is encrypted to prevent eavesdropping.
There are many public WiFi networks in the world, and these can be targeted by attackers for information gathering purposes (i.e. what your account credentials are). And indeed even for network impersonation – if you use “The Cloud” extensively, an attacker can pretend to be “The Cloud” and connect you under their control.
Using a VPN reduces the risk of using unknown WiFi networks, so it is actually quite a sensible thing to do.