Enabling Student Advantage for Office 365 Education clients

Any organization who has subscribed Office 365 Education can register for the student advantage with their partner or service provider.

A key requirement of getting your Office 365 licenses is to have a valid agreement covering all your staff. If you’re new to EES also make sure your reseller uses the Eduserv agreement to get the best pricing.

You need to ask your reseller for the Office 365 licenses to be added to your agreement; both for the free plan A2 (now known as E1) for Faculty \ Students as well as the (additional) Student Advantage licenses.

When renewing \ setting up your agreement make sure you fill in your primary contact details carefully. The activation email for your Office 365 accounts will go to the primary account contact unless you specify a separate licensing contact on the form.

You might need to do this if your agreement is ordered by someone outside of IT and they get put down as the primary contact. This is important as it can be difficult to track down those activation emails later on if they’ve gone to a user who isn’t expecting them.

ees contact info


Activating your licenses and checking VLSC

Once your EES agreement is processed you should see two things

  1. your licenses will appear in VLSC in the Agreement Summary
  2. you’ll receive an email (or two) to activate your Office 365 licenses

Sometimes the Office 365 licenses might take a week or two longer to come through compared to when your new EES agreement goes live. If you don’t see anything after 14 days it’s worth checking with your reseller \ Microsoft that everything has gone through OK.

To check VLSC log in with the nominated Microsoft account you use to manage your licenses then head to Licenses > License Summary

VLSC license summary

Then look down the list for the Office 365 licenses as highlighted below:

I've snipped this screenshot as we have a lot more licenses in the list!


So now you just need that activation email… although you might have already received it but not realised. You might initially think it would be branded from Office 365 but it’s a lot more subtle and could easily be mistaken as a confirmation email for your VLSC access. Watch out for the magic words Microsoft Online Services Team

Here’s what the subject line looks like in your inbox:

student advantage subject line

Now, you need to activate your license.

How institutions get Student Advantage

Let’s start with a recap of how you qualify. Any institution will need to meet some criteria:

  1. You must have an OVS-ES or EES volume licensing agreement.
  2. You must cover 100% of your faculty/staff for Office on that OVS/ES or EES agreement.

As long as you meet the criteria you’ll need to contact your licensing reseller after December 1st to order the Student Advantage licences. What happens next depends on which volume licence agreement you have.

OVS-ES Customers

Once you’ve placed your order with your reseller you’ll get sent a link to retrieve your keys from the Volume Licensing Service Centre (VLSC). Through here you’ll see your product keys and be able to access the redemption interface to enter your keys into your tenant.

After you’ve entered the keys you’ll have the licences available (note, the image below does not show the Student Advantage Office 365 ProPlus licences, it’s just for illustration):

Office 365 Admin Center

You can then follow the process for assigning these licences to your student users in the normal way; either via the admin centre, or Windows Remote PowerShell. These will be in addition to any other Office 365 licences a user may already have, such as Exchange Online Plan 1 or Office 365 Plan A2.

EES Customers

As with OVS-ES you’ll need to contact your reseller to order the licences. Once the order is processed an email will be sent to the Online Services Manager, Notices Contact, or the Primary Contact. This email will contain two links: one to sign in, and one to sign up.

Whoever is going to process this email needs to ensure they are fully signed out of any and all Microsoft Online Services (this includes Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Office 365, etc.). This will avoid accidentally attempting to associate the licences to the wrong place. Given that you’ll already have a tenant with users in place you’ll need to click sign in and authenticate with your Office 365 administrative credentials.

This process provisions the licences to your tenant, and once completed you’ll be able to assign them to your users following whatever process you currently use.

Once an institution has allocated the Office 365 ProPlus licences that underpin the Student Advantage benefit students will not necessarily see anything different in their experience of Office 365. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are a couple of ideas for how to spread the word:

  • Send an email to all students informing them of the new software available to them.
  • Promote a link to the software through your student portal.
  • Put posters up around school / campus advertising the new software.
  • Use social media to communicate the new benefit.

The direct link, if you want to include it in communication, is: https://portal.microsoftonline.com/OLS/MySoftware.aspx but without the direct link, here’s what you need to know…

Students will need to sign into Office 365 with their credentials in the usual way, such as through your SSO portal, directly into OWA, etc. Once there, click on the little sprocket in the top right-hand corner, and select Office 365 settings from the menu.

Office 365 settingsThis will take you to your main settings page, where you can see all sorts of interesting things, but in the context of Student Advantage and Office 365 ProPlus we’re only interested in the software link.

Office 365 settings page

Clicking the software link will take you to the page, below, where you can access your Office 365 ProPlus software!


Simply select the appropriate language, and whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit (click advanced to unlock that option) and then click install. Your Office 365 ProPlus experience will then begin.

If you’re running Mac OS X then this screen may look a little different to let you download Office for Mac 2011.

How do I get Student Advantage in Office 365 Education?

Office 365 ProPlus, which is the “proper name” for Student Advantage, is delivered through Office 365 Education. You might jump to the conclusion that in order to get it you must be using Office 365 Education for all of the other workloads that come with it, like Exchange Online, Lync Online or SharePoint Online. You’d be wrong.

Office 365 Education is a collection of many services:

  • Windows Azure Active Directory for identity
  • Exchange Online for email, calendaring, etc.
  • Lync Online for instant messaging, voice and video communication, etc.
  • SharePoint Online, SkyDrive Pro and Office Web Apps for document creation, storage and collaboration, etc.
  • Office 365 ProPlus for the full featured rich client experience of Office on the desktop and mobile devices.

The only required part of Office 365 Education is Windows Azure AD – that’s the bit that controls the user accounts and licensing. Without it, there’d be no service. Everything else is optional. You can pick and choose which services you take; many start with Exchange Online, adding in other services later. Some will start with just Office 365 ProPlus (under Student Advantage).

You don’t have to move away from your current email and collaboration services to pass on the Student Advantage benefit to your students! Although obviously, I think you should because the full Office 365 Education collection of services when run together is pretty awesome.

The easy way out

Student Advantage is a volume licensing benefit where students get Office 365 ProPlus at no additional cost, provided institutions meet the following criteria:

1. Institution has an EES agreement or an OVS-ES agreement

2. Licenses 100% of Faculty/Staff organization wide for Office (i.e. Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Education A3 or A4, or Office Professional Plus 2013)

3. Institution places an order for Student Advantage licenses through their reseller

Since various institutions order licenses for Office 365 for Education differently, we have produced a handy ordering and deployment guide for you, with details of how to assign your licenses to your Students.

So, if you are an existing Office 365 for Education customer (either through EES or directly through our web site) with single or multiple tenancies or if you are a brand new Office 365 for Education customer please take a look at this deployment guide and FAQ to find out more about how to get up and running quickly