Every primary, secondary and third-level student in the country is to be offered heavily discounted Microsoft software which, when purchased, will also entitle their school to a rebate on its software licences.
The programme is called Software4Students and follows an agreement signed between the National Centre for Technology Education (NCTE), the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), the Combined Higher Education Software Trust (CHEST) and Microsoft.
The deal on offer covers all Microsoft software such as Windows, Office, Encarta, FrontPage or NOD32 security software and is open to the 917,000 students in Ireland. The discounts include price reductions of more than 80pc in some cases, such as the option to buy Microsoft Office for €82 rather than its usual retail price of €225.
Students must register as a member of the website www.software4students.ie in order to avail of the offer. Anyone registering on the site also automatically enters a prize draw for an Xbox 360 console. The offer includes software for the Apple Macs as well as for Windows PCs.
Every time a student buys Microsoft software in this way, their school or college will receive a rebate equivalent to around 5pc of the licence price. A Microsoft representative said that this effectively gives the school or third-level institute a new source of funding to support their ICT needs.
Jerome Morrissey, director of the NCTE, welcomed the scheme. “It is a very positive development in that students will now be able to equip their home computers with educational software for less than 20pc of the retail cost,” he said.
Chris Murphy, manager with CHEST, pointed out that the agreement would help to fulfil the group’s remit to obtain good-quality commercial software for the higher education community at low prices and on attractive licence terms.
USI president Colm Hamrogue said the venture would offer tremendous benefits to his organisation’s members. “The cost to students of the best educational software to support their studies will be significantly reduced and USI sees this as cause for celebration, particularly at a time when accommodation, public transport and registration fees are putting students in a financial pinch,” he said.
By Gordon Smith