Entanet Broadband Partner ‘The UK Free Software Network’ (UKFSN) has launched a scheme aimed at recognising student contribution to the ongoing development of free software and supporting them by means of a salary for their work.
UKFSN is to use the profits it makes from broadband subscriptions and hosting to help fund the programme. It has already identified and started supporting its first funded student – an important contributor to Unbuntu – and expects to be supporting three students by September this year and as many as 15 by the end of 2009.
The idea, says Jason Clifford who runs the UKFSN, is to reward the valuable development work that these students produce and encourage them to do even more. “Students have always made a major contribution to the on-doing development of open source software but receive little in return barring the recognition and admiration of their peers. The scheme will give them something that will help to support and sustain their efforts and make it easier for them to continue with both their studies and their contributions to the on-going development of free software.”
Students identified by the scheme will receive a salary of around £4800 from September 2007 (the amount is slightly lower during the start-up phase). This will be enough, says Jason, to support the funded student’s basic living expenses. “It will free them up from the worry of having to work in a less than wonderful job in order to meet their needs.”
Most computer science and computing students find it necessary to take part-time work in order to get through university and this makes it harder for them to contribute to free software development, which in itself can also help them to build their knowledge and skills. “Many university lecturers positively encourage students to get involved with open source as a way of honing and developing their abilities, so in some small way UKFSN is actively supporting the education system and delivering long-term benefits to the UK software industry”, says Jason.
The initiative has been warmly applauded by UKFSN’s wholesale broadband partner, Entanet. “UKFSN has shown real innovation and commitment to the free software movement with its funded student programme and we wish Jason every success” says Carol Davies, Entanet’s Business Development Manager – Data. “Without students, free software development could not continue at such an impressive pace and it is great to value the people who do such good work at a grass-roots level. This scheme not only rewards their contribution but will also greatly benefit the free software movement and industry as a whole. UKFSN is widely acknowledged for its focus on leading broadband forums such as thinkbroadband.com and the evidence there suggests that a large number of customers looking for a broadband provider are influenced by what it stands for.”