We'd like to use Service Desk for a University help desk but there are a few limiting factors. There isn't a default way to create an issue for a customer, for one. For another, we have something tens of thousands of customers that we wouldn't want to have to license for. This product is so close to our needs and yet it doesn't seem to quite fit the bill.
I work in the IT dept at a university and we are dealing with the same question. We have not transitioned to JIRA Service Desk for our helpdesk yet, but we are going to potentially start using it for some specific help request form sort of situations. I know what you mean about the tens of thousands of users. However, what we are considering is just buying enough JIRA licenses for specific departments or colleges so that we can begin to provide an internal support portal just for employees.
As far as supporting the student population, our current helpdesk works mostly with phone, email, chat and walk-in support. It has no current web support portal. If they moved from their ticketing system to JIRA , we'd have to set up a process where they can make issues for phone/walk-in requests manually. The email would be with a basic JIRA email handler, and service desk would provide a support portal for employees.
Just remember that service desk is a nice portal, but you don't have to get a license for all your students. I suspect that eventually Atlassian will do something for those of us who support thousands of users who don't (and shouldn't) get access to full-blown JIRA.
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