||“Our strategic partnership with ASAUDIT shares the ultimate aim of using technology to help improve education and learning in South Africa. To best adapt to the change in a globally competitive world, students need a new set of skills
– they need to be able to collaborate, communicate, and be critical thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs, problem-solvers, and citizens of the world. Technology is at the heart of this and through this project we are committed to work with ASAUDIT to make relevant,
integrated, and affordable technologies accessible to students of this country.” Theron agrees.
Public Sector Director
Microsoft South Africa
The Association of South African University Directors of IT (ASAUDIT) has entered into a centralised licensing agreement with Microsoft South Africa to give students cost-effective access to the Microsoft Windows Professional Upgrade and Office Professional
suite. This will provide all university students with access to the latest technology giving them the skills and tools they need to be ready for innovative learning and teaching environments and the job market once they graduate.
Traditionally, South African universities have had the challenge that only a limited number of students who read for BSC and BCOM degrees take their own laptops to classes and use it for research. Unfortunately, the majority of other students have to stand
in long queues to access shared computer laboratories at the universities and would then be limited to use those facilities for only 20 minutes at a time in order for other students to get a turn.
“Universities have long been talking about looking at a collaborative, facilitated procurement solution to address disparate student access to technology. The ultimate goal is to be in a position to assist students with affordable access to relevant technology
that integrates into their studies and university. Given that the use of blended and personalised learning through mobile technologies is growing in education, we decided to look at a Student Technology Access Programme. However, one of the stumbling blocks
has been who would be responsible for the management of these assets,” says Val Theron, General Manager of ASAUDIT.
With universities feeling that asset management do not form part of their core mandate, ASAUDIT needed to come up with a solution that would be affordable for students to purchase but not compromise on the quality or burden universities administratively.
To this end, ASAUDIT formed a special interest group to evaluate and define what the requirements would be for the devices it would recommend for students. In the end, it decided that there should be four different levels of laptops; a netbook on the bottom
end, two mid-range configurations, and an Intel Core i7 processor configuration at the top-end, all standardised on Microsoft premium technologies.
“We went to tender for the hardware requirements. After a few rounds of cost refinements, ASAUDIT decided on two vendors who met our very specific needs. The next challenge would be to roll out the Student Technology Access Programme as quickly as possible
to meet the expected influx of first year students,” says Theron.
In March 2010, Microsoft South Africa shared its vision of facilitating, accessible and relevant learning and teaching technologies for all university students at an ASAUDIT CIO conference. The association wanted a mechanism to make this vision a reality
across South Africa.
ASAUDIT felt that using Microsoft software would prepare the students for the work environment bringing them the benefits of an easy, secure, collaborative, and intuitive Windows and Office experience.
Once the hardware tender was completed and both Lenovo and Acer were selected as providers for the first phase of the project, Microsoft incorporated the software and licensing model.
“We supported ASAUDIT to develop a dynamic multi-stakeholder model which included a competitive price offering and simple online purchase process through the hardware vendors dedicated sites. As the Microsoft platform is the de facto standard in a work environment,
the universities decided on the technology as the platform of choice,” says Ashley Sanichar, account manager at Microsoft South Africa.
“This is still a very new project for us as we are not aware of another national technology access programme available to all university students in South Africa. We started the process in April last year and had the first roll out in September. We are quite
proud of what has been accomplished to date and have managed to iron out a lot of the initial teething problems. ASAUDIT will now embark on a national marketing campaign to inform students of the initiative and show them that we can provide them with a great
learning and teaching solution which includes an affordable and quality Microsoft platform,” says Theron.
Says Kabelo Makwane, Public Sector Director at Microsoft South Africa: “Our strategic partnership with ASAUDIT shares the ultimate aim of using technology to help improve education and learning in South Africa. To best adapt to the change in a globally competitive
world, students need a new set of skills – they need to be able to collaborate, communicate, and be critical thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs, problem-solvers, and citizens of the world. Technology is at the heart of this and through this project we are
committed to work with ASAUDIT to make relevant, integrated, and affordable technologies accessible to students of this country.” Theron agrees.
She says that this will see universities facilitate students’ access to laptops as an education resource. They will also educate students on the power of the platforms they are getting and ensure that the learning experience is rich and transferred to the
“The youth of today wants instant gratification. They want to click on a button and get information. Universities need to take responsibility in educating them on what they need to be effect students, entrepreneurs and citizens. By using Microsoft software,
we are taking the students in South Africa in the right direction and ensuring that they’re future ready,” adds Theron.
Microsoft has taken the complexity of procuring software and moved it to the background. Students can very easily order the laptop that suits their requirements with their software needs taken care of. Initially, the programme will be focused on laptops,
but ASAUDT will continue to add different mobile devices such as tablets to the programme to cater for the changing technology needs of students.
“ASAUDIT has signed a centralised Microsoft license agreement as they represent all universities in the country. So there is only one agreement in place as opposed to 23 different agreements with their own nuances. Licensing is purchased at a central level.
As the hardware vendors need more software licenses, they can order it from the ASAUDIT appointed Large Account Reseller directly,” says Sanichar.
The national, innovative licensing solution developed by Microsoft could easily be replicated in other developing markets, believes Sanichar.
“We found an innovative, customer-centric way that complies with Microsoft licensing requirements. This model fits into the African context because it is a lower cost model. Microsoft is currently exploring ways to introduce similar initiatives with other
education segments as well as national, provincial and municipal government employees,” concludes Sanichar.