Microsoft signs higher education deal

Microsoft signs higher education deal

Eight VARs to deliver cut-price Microsoft software to UK universities and colleges following landmark agreement

Not-for-profit IT group Eduserv has inked an alliance with Microsoft that will extend preferential pricing on the vendor’s software to all 650 of the UK’s colleges and universities.

The scheme, which is expected to save higher education institutions alone £1m, will be delivered by eight resellers: Bytes; Civica; Insight; Online Computers; Phoenix Software; Pugh; SCC; and Viglen.

Eduserv claims only education institutions with more than 3,000 staff could previously obtain preferential Microsoft pricing, of which there are only 20 in the UK.

Peter Walker, marketing director at Eduserv, said he expects around 300 institutions to exploit the deal in the next 12 months.

“This is an agreement we would like to have done for some time. It has taken some time to construct the legal framework and enable the universities to act together in this way,” he said.

“There will be some take-up issues around timing and ability to switch as people are either on one- or three-year agreements. But we expect at least half will be party to some agreement in the next 12 months.”

The eight resellers were chosen through a formal tender process based on a number of attributes, including price and service quality, Walker said. Each VAR will add different services and can set the price of the software.

Walker contrasted Eduserv’s approach with that of government agency Becta, which recently reported Microsoft to the Office of Fair Trading over its schools software licensing policy.

“It is right that Becta, as a public sector body, challenges the status quo. We have a more pragmatic approach and want to get the best deal that is currently available,” he said.