on Jay's suggestion, I contacted my reseller about the posibility of a free or discounted upgrade to Maya 8.5 and they hadn't even been notified of it's release! They were really sympathetic and said that they would look into it for me.
It's interesting to note that when I mentioned to them my feelings about Autodesk in comparison to Alias I got the distinct impression that they were not overly happy with the way that Autodesk are dealing with Maya or their customers either.
Hopefully my university won't upgrade, but I do get the impression that Autodesk might insist. There is no other option for me, if they do, than to upgrade myself which, if there is no free upgrade option, makes me so angry.
As a student/parent I have very little money and, although student licenced software is discounted, it is still not cheap when it's Maya Unlimited. Taking the decision to be legal should not carry penalties, I think that I might be the only student on my course with a legal version of Maya and what do I get in return? The prospect of perhaps having to buy the software again, which I can't afford..... so what was the point in me buying it in the first place?