Google has revealed a third of UK colleges and universities are using Google Apps for Education.

The company's customers include the University of York, the University of Sheffield, the University of St Andrews, Bristol University, Ealing Hammersmith & West London College and Coleg Cambria.

The free cloud-based apps - which include services such as Gmail, Drive (Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations), Calendar, Talk, Sites and Groups - are designed to offer staff and students a more creative and collaborative working environment.

Speaking at Google's Central St Giles office by Tottenham Court Road in London, Liz Sproat, Google’s head of education for EMEA, said: "We’re also seeing an increasing amount of usage in the schools community. Historically our focus has been very much around higher education but increasingly whole schools and whole chains of schools are also moving to Google Apps."

One example of that is the Academies Enterprise Trust, which is the largest academy chain in the UK, and is in the process of transitioning all their schools to Google Apps.

The California-headquartered company also claimed that some 25 million students, teachers and educational staff around the world are using the company's suite of applications.

 “We believe that by integrating technology in the web we have an opportunity to change the way teachers teach and students learn,” Sproat said.

The news comes as Google reveals that it has signed an agreement with Janet — the UK body responsible for body setting technology standards in schools and universities. The deal aims to cut the amount of time and money it takes to deploy Google Apps for Education.

It also comes as Whirlpool announces it is moving 68,000 staff on to Google Apps in a bid to "breakdown geographical barriers" and increase the pace of innovation within the company.