There are several network inventory/management server products that can scan the network, identify what software is installed and push
any updates to the machines like Microsoft's WSUS does.
A couple of problems however:
- They tend to be fairly expensive since this falls into that category of software called "enterprise." So unless you already have the platform to run them on (and can get some sort of educational discount) they're probably beyond your budget.
- Convenience comes with a price tag attached. And they can be very fiddley to operate - with the less expensive products usually being a lot more work to set up and get running properly.
- Unless your networked PCs have wake-on-LAN set up, the boxes will need to be left on overnight to get the updates. Otherwise, they'll usually start updating the minute they're logged in. If somebody has a lot to do, or is on a tight deadline, any automated download-install-reboot cycle can result in complaints from their boss to your boss about it.
- Related to the previous point - if you allow users to cancel or defer updates, 85% will ALWAYS do so and the updates won't be made to most of your machines. About the only people who will let them run are the people looking for an excuse to take a break.
There might be some F/OSS software solutions that could also work for you. But I can't recall any names off the top of my head.
Too bad you're not in a Linux/BSD environment. This capability is available courtesy of the software repository feature built into virtually every distro out there.