UCR students receive free access to Microsoft programs

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Starting Oct. 23, UCR has begun offering all students free access to Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus through the Microsoft Student Advantage program.

Begun on Dec. 1, 2013, Microsoft Student Advantage is a program designed to give college students free access to programs Microsoft believes are essential to success and was created as an effort to help students better prepare for an increasingly competitive job market.

“We developed Student Advantage to address the very real needs of our fast-changing global economy,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft in a press release. He believes that the program will give students “the advantage they need to be workforce ready.”

According to a study conducted by Microsoft and the International Data Corporation, Microsoft Office skills came in third on a list of the top 20 skills that jobs in the U.S. require, and Microsoft Word and Powerpoint came in 11th and 13th, respectively.

Any academic institution that offers Microsoft Office for staff and faculty qualifies for Student Advantage at no additional cost. Over 35,000 institutions currently qualify. Microsoft also announced on Dec. 1 that all staff and faculty of institutions with the Microsoft Campus Agreement (MCCA) will receive free access as well.

UCR’s Computing and Communications department first contacted Microsoft in the beginning of September and was able to begin the process of testing and implementation in mid-October. They announced the program on Oct. 23 via ScotMail after working with UCR’s campus Microsoft representative and testing the process with student workers. Phyllis Franco, a manager at Computing and Communications, then scheduled a Microsoft representative to set up a table by the Bell Tower on both the 23rd and the 28th, where students received both T-shirts and information about the program.

Franco expressed her enthusiasm about the project’s success thus far. “We are very happy to have found out in our first five days of announcing this, 2,500 UCR students have already activated their free Office 365 software,” she said. She also plans on working with UCR’s Microsoft representative to plan an event where students can receive help with registering and installing Office.

UCR waited to implement the program until the UC Office of the President had determined how each campus would manage the process. The UCOP came to an agreement with Microsoft that each UC should individually decide whether or not to have Microsoft manage the setup.

At UCR, Microsoft is managing the process by which students sign up by having them register using their UCR email addresses and then clicking a link emailed to them by Microsoft and downloading the program. UCR and UC Davis are the first two UCs to implement their Student Advantage services. Students will be equipped with the most up-to-date version of Microsoft Office for five computers plus five other devices, such as smartphones or tablets. In addition, students will have one terabyte of storage for OneDrive, a program that allows online photo and document storage, which will become unlimited beginning in 2015.

UCR students have been enthusiastic about what the program means for the campus. “I think it’s great,” said Sam Miller, a fourth-year student. “I think it’ll be helpful for everyone. Now students don’t have to stay on campus to do homework.”

“Providing UCR students this software at no cost is a part of our efforts to ensure students have a modern, innovative environment for learning,” Franco said. “We are therefore proud that UCR is one of the first UC campuses to make this Microsoft program available to its students.”

Other services currently offered to UCR students include mysoftware.ucr.edu, a website that allows students to download educational software for free, such as SPSS, Mathematica, MATLAB, ArcGis and more. Computing also offers Virtual Lab, a new service that allows students to use these programs without having to download them via remote access to a lab from home.

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