Microsoft 365 for education is changing in 2024

14 November 2023

Microsoft has announced the retirement of the Office 365 A1 Plus program for education from 1st August 2024.  Additionally, Microsoft are set to remove the free unlimited storage feature for education customers with Microsoft 365 or Office 365 at your next contract renewal, (no sooner than 1st August 2024). 

The difference between A1 and A1 Plus Licenses 

The Office 365 A1 Plus program is a free Office subscription that includes Office desktop apps for qualified schools that purchased Office institution-wide for faculty and staff through Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES), Open Value Subscription Education Solutions (OVS-ES), Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), or a school contract.  

This program was introduced in 2015 to aid moving users to the cloud, but it has also amounted to some complications and non-compliance. 

After all existing Office 365 A1 Plus licenses expire on August 1st, 2024, schools will have the choice to: 

  • Utilise Office 365 A1, as no-cost option, or 
  • Microsoft 365 for Education suites (with Education discounts) 

The A1 licence offers essential functionality, but it is worth noting that the Office 365 A1 licence does not include Microsoft Desktop apps; you would require either A3 or A5 licensing to use Desktop apps. 

How to identify your licence type 

In the Billing and Licenses section of the Admin Centre, IT admins will be able to see your current licenses and their renewal date.  

Storage changes 

Microsoft 365 previously offered unlimited storage; however, the incoming changes introduce a limit of 100 terabytes of pooled storage. This shared storage allocation is split across OneDrive accounts, Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint sites.  

With pooled storage, the total storage limit is the maximum amount of storage all users combined can use. Office 365 A1, a free subscription, will not add additional storage to the pool and will be limited to a maximum of 100GB of OneDrive storage consumed within the tenant’s 100TB of pooled storage. 

All education customers with A3 or A5 subscriptions will receive an additional 50GB or 100GB respectively, of pooled storage per paid user. 

Is this going to cause a problem for education establishments? 

Although Microsoft state that 97% of schools are well below the new storage allocation, the changes may present challenges for educational institutions, however, there are actionable strategies that your IT support provider will be able to implement to overcome them.  

Microsoft is delivering a set of free tools for IT technicians to manage the process, including tools to visualise current storage allocation and usage across OneDrive, SharePoint and Exchange, and methods to effectively manage stored data and end-of-life stored files that are no longer needed. 

Managing and optimising Microsoft 365 storage  

Administrators can use Microsoft’s storage reports to obtain a detailed breakdown of storage consumption across Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive and begin to proactively manage and optimise storage allocations, enforcing storage limits where required. 

Security groups can be used to allocate varying storage allowances across different user groups and pooled storage can be optimised by centralising resources wherever possible. Creating subject-level or department-level teams to centrally store resources, can reduce duplication and storage consumption. 

Utilising retention policies within Office 365 can automatically delete files and emails after a specified period of inactivity. This not only frees up valuable storage but also aligns with existing data retention and GDPR policies. 

Restricting site and team creation is essential for maintaining a manageable and secure environment, but also helps to minimise unnecessary storage consumption. 

What should you do next 

Speak to your IT technician or IT support provider to review your current Office 365 licensing and storage consumption, to plan for managing and optimising your Office 365 storage ahead of the upcoming changes. 

How can we help 

We understand the complexity of education software and that big changes can be complicated and stressful. With our many years of experience, we can help your establishment to understand these changes, review your storage allocation and meet licensing requirements in the most cost-effective way possible – contact us today if you need help or advice. 

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