A few years ago, I spoke at the Women in Data Science conference, as I mentioned in a LinkedIn article I wrote about how students are rejecting SAS and instead focusing on R and Python. At that conference, one of the students asked a good question:
“If you want us to learn SAS, that’s fine, but how do we get access to a copy?”
SAS Licenses are Expensive, but University Students Like to Install Free Software
I told her that my experience had been that you have to be affiliated with a college or business with a SAS license in order to actually access SAS (even the PC version). But I was told by one of the professors in the audience that SAS had actually released a free “University Edition” as they called it. I told the audience I would explore this – I had not heard of it.
As I said, this was a few Januarys ago. Over the following months, I actually recorded my SAS courses using PC SAS at LinkedIn Learning, so I had occasion to e-mail and speak to SAS directly a few times as part of the process. I asked the different people I encountered at SAS how to get the University Edition, and no one I spoke to really seemed to know. SAS is a huge company, and I hate to admit that I find it really typical that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
I Actually Learned about Free SAS University Edition from a Google Ad
Then, last fall, I noticed that an ad came up when I was looking for something else in Google (thanks to our best frenemy, AI) that suggested for me to download the free SAS University Edition, so I clicked it. It led to this entry page, but if you click through that, you end up on this long page with all the instructions of what to do to install the SAS University Edition. The same page provides instructions for Windows, OS X, and Linux.
I Have “SAS Install PTSD” – So Will Installing Free SAS University Edition be Less Triggering?
I took a deep breath, clicked on the Windows icon for my OS, and decided that I better explore this opportunity for my students. Because I am an experienced SAS user, I was already wary, because I know that installing PC SAS in the olden days really sucked. You had to babysit the computer all day, taking compact discs (remember those?) in and out of physical disc drives. I get the same kind of panic attacks when I see rotary phones now.
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the computer babysitting time went down, and there are no more rainbowy compact discs full of SAS install files cluttering up my desk. The bad news is that the process is still onerous.
Updated February 8, 2020.
Updated February 8, 2020.