Birmingham City University's Technology Innovation Centre - known locally as the TIC - has grasped the IT nettle called open source software.
It says that the increasingly all-pervasive nature of computing is stimulating greater interest in open source software from both individuals and businesses.
This development in software harnesses the power of a network of experts independent of proprietary software organisations and corporations such as Microsoft.
Its global community of supporters claim open source offers better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility and lower cost than widely-used, commercially licensed products such as Microsoft's Office suite.
It is supported by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), a not-for-profit corporation formed to educate and advocate the benefits of open source. As a standards body, it maintains the open source definition for the 'good of the whole community' and claims its Open Source Initiative approved licence trademark and programme creates 'a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organise open-source co-operation.'
Now that Microsoft has announced it is to open up the technology of some of its leading software to make it easier to operate with rivals' products, even greater enthusiasm for open source may be expected.
It is expected that the technology giant will in due course publish key software blueprints on its website. It has also promised not to sue open source developers for making that software available for non-commercial use.
Until recently courses in the application and use of open source software in the West Midlands were available through Birmingham City University's 'Open Advantage' arm.
That responsibility has now been transferred to its bigger sister, the university's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) - the foundation element of its soon-to-be expanded city centre campus.
Businesses interest in supporting the open source approach is growing, since it offers the opportunity to save costs and encourages free-thinking in the develop-ment of software that does not need its license regularly upgraded.
This has led the TIC to introduce a new short course module entitled 'Developing Systems using Open Source'. It introduces the conceptual framework of open source systems and covers licences, communities, principles and processes.
Students on the course will gain the knowledge and skills needed to install, configure, administer and make full use of the open source system and its networking applications.
The first module is being offered as a full-day course running on four consecutive Fridays from April 4-25.
The cost is £200. Dates for further modules will be announced in due course.
* Anyone who may be interested in exploring the use of open source can find out more about the course by phoning 0121 331 6400 or email email@example.com