Although Google offers Gmail to education providers free, SMS Management and Technology said there were significant costs associated with providing tight security and integrating the email system with the department’s existing portal.
“This will be one of the biggest Gmail deployments in the world,” said its spokesman, Matthew Kaufman, who said Macquarie University had also recently signed up for Gmail.
The US-based information technology analyst Matthew Cain, from Gartner, said it was no secret why Microsoft and Google are “assiduously courting” the .edu community with free email services.
“If the vendors can get students to sign up for email accounts, the hope is they will then use those accounts for life,” Mr Cain said. “Students, alumni, staff and faculty all represent a highly desirable demographic that advertisers will pay top dollar to reach.”
The department’s chief information officer, Stephen Wilson, said there would be no advertising on the new email accounts, which would be supported by tough filtering and security software.
Students will be able to log on from home. But whereas each had access to 35 megabytes of memory on their account previously, they now have six gigabytes.
“I think we are the largest single-enterprise user of Gmail,” Mr Wilson said.