After seeing a $2 million surplus and funding a second round of proposals this year, the Student Technology Fee Committee (STFC) is now making software free to students.
At its May 24 meeting, the committee approved a proposal that would fund giving the premier suite of the Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise Edition operating system and Microsoft Office to every UW student. UW Technology will also be funding the software copies for all departments and facilities.
Asa LaMusga, the STFC’s program coordinator, said the software will become available to all students “with all of the bells and whistles.” LaMusga said that UW Technology submitted a proposal to the committee about the program, and that they have been working together to distribute software campus-wide.
“UW Tacoma and UW Bothell have done this for years, so UW [Seattle] was behind the curve,” LaMusga said. “For $17 a student, they’ll be able to download a copy and be able to keep it for life and get upgrades.”
LaMusga said the student price for the programs is far below market price.
Microsoft agreed to subsidize part of the cost, having the pilot program pay for one-third of the UW student population, or 14,000 students. If the committee decides to continue the program, it will have to fund two-thirds of the students the following year, and fund based on usage after that. Edward Jiang, ASUW senate representative to the STFC, said the first year’s costs would total $250,000 and be much cheaper for students than if they were to buy the software individually.
“It’s a pretty exciting proposal, since everyone has a copy of Office, and we could use our group buying power to lower the price,” Jiang said.
According to the proposal submitted by the Computing and Communications department, large populations of students are using older operating systems and coming across compatibility difficulties when switching from campus to personal computers.
Frank Zhang, a junior majoring in environmental studies, said in the proposal that he often runs across formatting errors between different versions of Microsoft Office but couldn’t upgrade due to the cost.
Some students, however, are concerned about the committee’s ability to fund other proposals that were submitted.
LaMusga said that the committee was able to fund all of the proposals that it wanted, and that it made sure the software program wouldn’t cut into anything else.
“We wanted the one-year option because we didn’t have the money to fund two or three years, and wanted to make an informed decision for next year,” LaMusga said. “Nothing suffered.”
Although a confirmed date is unavailable, the STFC is hoping to make the software available online for PCs and Macs by the end of June or in early July. UW Technology will ensure that all graduating seniors are given the opportunity to download the software before leaving.
“It will be interesting to see,” LaMusga said of the proposal. “It’s the best deal at any university in the country.”
Reach reporter Katie Burke at email@example.com.
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