Blog News GitLab solutions for education
Published on March 30, 2021
8 min read

GitLab solutions for education

You spoke, we listened! Check out our new and improved options for bringing GitLab to your campus.

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It's been an exciting year for the GitLab for Education Program! We hit 2 million all-time seats issued, we connected with many of our Program Members through coffee chats, on issues, in our customer reference program, and through our GitLab for Education Program 2020 Program Survey.

Through these conversations and the survey, you've shared with us your successes and some of your challenges with bringing the DevOps transformation to your campus. Our survey yielded some great insights about your journey, which have inspired the iterations to our solutions for education (which you can read about below). Specifically:

GitLab is used extensively across the entire educational institution

Adoption extends well beyond typical Computer Science departments into many different academic departments as well as administrative departments such as information technology and services. Departments ranged from natural and social sciences, to medical fields, nearly every time of engineering, to library science. Even Seismology, Planetary Science, and Astronomy – the sky is literally not even the limit for DevOps in Education.

Not only is GitLab used for teaching coding, adoption across campus is multidisciplinary. Generally, departments are using GitLab for more than one primary purpose including teaching, research, learning, and student portfolios.

Most campuses want to use GitLab across the enterprise. In today's modern campus, collaboration occurs across campus. In the past, license restrictions based on use case have been a barrier to collaboration and adoption.

For example, one respondent indicated that:

"At our institution, it is not binary if you are 'administration' and 'teaching/learning.' We work on all sorts of projects for all aspects of the university from teaching/learning, to research and outreach."

We realize that our education community is innovating and pushing traditional boundaries and that we need to do the same in order to make adoption of DevOps across the enterprise easier for everyone.

At GitLab, we believe everyone can contribute! When you speak, we listen.

Over the last year, we took a hard look at our licensing options for education, we took in your feedback, and we had long and detailed discussion of how we can better meet your needs. We did our best to think outside the box and come up with a new structure to enable the adoption of GitLab across all of campus.

We are thrilled to announce that we've revamped our existing GitLab for Education license and created a new innovative license structure specifically designed to enable campus-wide adoption, GitLab for Campuses.

Before we get to the new offering, we'll highlight what's new in the GitLab for Education Program. The program provides free subscriptions of GitLab Ultimate, our top tier, to qualifying institutions. Program members are able to choose a deployment method, self-managed or hosted (formerly Gold). GitLab for Education licenses can only be used directly for teaching, learning, or research. It is not authorized to run, administer, or operate an institution.

There is no limit on the number of seats a university can request. Additionally, there is now no limit on the number of subscriptions any one university can request. We realize that a university can have many different administrative units and that it is often difficult to coordinate across these units. We also realize that different divisions on campus may require different hosting types. This is especially true where research laboratories or centers store sensitive data and may need to have their repositories on locally isolated servers. The flexibility of deployment method, either self-managed or SaaS, was noted as a large advantage of the GitLab for Education Program in our survey. Campuses are able to choose the method that works best with their security requirements and authentication systems as well as meeting research funding requirements. We are really excited to offer this flexibility to campus as a whole by allowing multiple deployment methods per campus through the program.


We've seen a great increase in the number of applications, types of entities applying, and the use cases. We are surprised and amazed on a daily basis! Given this influx, we have updated and added clarity to our institutional and use case requirements.

In order to qualify for the GitLab for Education Program the institution must be accredited (by a local, state, provincial, federal, or national authorized agency), have the primary purpose of teaching its enrolled students, and be degree-granting. Institutions can be public or private but must be registered as not-for profit.

While we value the kind of work that code camps, code academies, training centers, eLearning platforms etc. are engaged in, these entities do not qualify for the free program (full list here).

Acceptable use cases include classroom use, non-commercial academic research, or organization use, where the use is directly related to a club or organization for the benefit of developing students. Research that is conducted at the request of and for the benefit of a third party is not authorized under the GitLab for Education license. Along those lines, any activities conducted by a consulting center, super computer laboratory, or entity that provides services for the benefit of a third party are not acceptable under the free license. Please see additional details here.

GitLab for Campuses

The free program comes with many restrictions, as outlined above, and we've heard from you that many of these restrictions are not ideal, especially for those campuses that are early adopters and are already seeing demand across campus.

You've told us that separating users based on use case or persona is not realistic for many of you. And we understand! That's why we created a unique offering that combines the best of the both our free and paid offerings with the goal of enabling adoption of GitLab across the campus enterprise.

The GitLab for Campuses offering is designed so that campuses don't have to worry about who is using GitLab or how they are using it. Any activites that occur under the official not-for-profit entity that purchased the license are acceptable. The only caveat is that entities directly affiliated with an institution that is managed and operated as a for-profit with a separate tax status than the parent institution do not qualify. For example, for-profit online programs, endowment money management arms, startup incubators, would not qualify.

Yes, we realize that it is entirely possible that every single faculty, staff and student may want, need, and use a GitLab account. If that is the case, first of all, you are a rockstar campus and please reach out to us because we definitely want to talk! And secondly, if that is the case, you will run out of seats. We fully realize this. In the spirit of our GitLab values, we went with the simplest viable change (MVC) for this first iteration. The last published enrollment of all students per semester is an easy number to access and document, so we choose this value to base the price on. Additionally, educational institutions fall into typical sized buckets with fairly standard ratio bands of faculty to staff to students. As use expands, we will revisit this in the next iteration and if you feel that this number is a limitation, please reach out and we can work with you in the meantime.

Is GitLab for Campuses right for my institution?

Is the price worth it? We can help you determine if this subscription is right for your campus. We based the GitLab for Campuses offering on the idea that students remain free and that institutions only pay for administrative use. What does this mean? This means that the offering is based on the typical number of administrative or professional users that a campus within any given size bucket could be expected to have. You can think of this as a break-even price. For example, if I have a campus of X amount of students, I may have an Y amount of administrative users. If I were to pay for just these administrative individuals in a given year, I would pay Z. Z is your break-even price. The GitLab for Campuses model is well below the break-even price for a typical campus and provides you with top-tier features with your choice of deployment method. It is a win-win!

Some campuses may not be the point where their Z makes sense for the GitLab for Campuses offering just yet. Maybe GitLab or DevOps is new to your campus... Maybe your campus has vendor lock on a different solution... Or maybe only a small department is using GitLab.... If you aren't at the level where the GitLab for Campuses offering makes sense, we still have a solution for you. We've created an Academic Discount of 20% off our list price to qualifying educational institutions. This way you can just pay for the seats you need.

What's next?

2021 is going to be an exciting year for the GitLab for Education Program. We are making significant investments into bringing DevOps to educational institutions around the world! We are automating the entire application process, making it much easier and faster to both apply and renew the free licenses. We are also investing significantly in creating learning and development content for faculty, students, and staff.

Stay tuned for more case studies! Check our recent examples here from Dublin City University, the British Geological Survey, and the Square Kilometer Array, to learn more about how DevOps is transforming teaching, learning, and research.

Did you miss the survey? Don't worry, we'll send out another one in the fall of 2021 and we also have a issue template for anyone in education to provide us with feedback. Check it out here.

Are you interested in applying for the free GitLab for Education Program? Apply now.

Would you like to talk to our Sales team about the GitLab for Campuses offering? Contact Sales.

We want to hear from you

Enjoyed reading this blog post or have questions or feedback? Share your thoughts by creating a new topic in the GitLab community forum. Share your feedback

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