Top 5 Free Programs for University Students

Being a university student has changed in recent years. Thanks to hard economic times, it can be a lot tougher to survive on a student loan, and many students have had to become much more savvy when it comes to money. On the other hand, great strides have been made with regard to the actual learning side of things. Almost everyone has a computer or tablet (very often both), and they are increasingly seen as essential tools for study, with many very useful programs available to facilitate the learning process.

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Educational software is often not cheap, however, and may not be provided by your university or college. Don’t worry, though, as thanks to the diligent efforts of philanthropic programmers, there are a number of free educational programs out there. Indeed, some of the best educational software is free. Here is a list of five of the best programs for students, at the fantastic price of absolutely nothing.

Thunderbird with Lightning

Thunderbird – Mozilla’s flagship email program – has a great reputation, allowing you to organise your mail and filter junk, as well as featuring an RSS feed reader. The Lightning calendar extension allows you to fully integrate your emails and calendar, as well as share them with others cross-platform. It’s excellent for organising meetings and study groups. Best of all, it supports mobile device synchronisation, so you can keep track of which lecture you’re late for at any time.

Apps for students mailing thunderbird mail client with Lightning


OpenOffice is the open source alternative to paid office suites such as MS Office.
While it may not be as slick or well-presented as professional competitors, it offers full functionality. There are a few limitations, though; for example, the Writer application does not have nearly the same number of document templates offered by MS Office. The program does not hold the user’s hand in any way, either, so it’s advisable to know your way around office software before downloading it.

Software Apps for students review

Despite these minor niggles, it’s fully compatible with most file types, and as a fully functional alternative to expensive professional office software, it doesn’t get any better than OpenOffice. Truly essential if you’re on a budget – whatever you’re studying


Freemind is a simple, easy to use mind-mapping program, containing everything you need to create an attractive (and most importantly, memorable) map of whatever topic you are studying. Nodes can be manipulated and moved around, blocks can be colour-coded and symbols can be attached to make important points easier to remember. Ideal for exam revision or presentation in groups.

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As a student, you will more than likely receive an enormous list of reading materials to get through, and keeping track of it all can become overwhelming. Bibliographies, in particular, can be an absolute nightmare at times. That’s where Tellico comes in.

Apps for university students

Tellico is a bibliography/collection manager, making it easy to keep a record of your reading list, or indeed any other lists you may keep. It comes in especially handy for essay writing, as even if you return a book you have borrowed, you can still access the relevant bibliographic information easily. This one point alone is enough to warrant Tellico a place in the top 5, as it saves a great deal of hassle. Not to mention the fact that you can import information from a number of websites, including IMDB and The only negative point is that Tellico is currently only available for Linux, but it’s well worth a download if you can run it.

Avast Home Edition

Student App for university

Many universities offer some kind of antivirus software to all their students, but this is by no means guaranteed. Students especially will use their laptops out and about, and this could lead to a computer virus if you don’t have adequate security software. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, rest assured that there is a solution: Avast Home Edition is a deceptively powerful antivirus suite that runs comfortably in the background on most computers, whether you’re running a high-powered machine such as a Lenovo laptop or a cheap-and-cheerful netbook. If you can put up with the lack of a regularly scheduled virus scan, Avast Home Edition is one of the best free antivirus packages out there.

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