Students adjust to changes in university Adobe licenses

Students at the University of Connecticut are unable to download the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite free of charge for the first time since 2014. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Students at the University of Connecticut are unable to download the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite free of charge for the first time since 2014.

A three-year contract between the university and Adobe expired last May, and a successor agreement could not be reached, said Michael Mundrane, the Vice Provost for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.

“In that agreement, the university purchased, for about $455,000 per year, enough licenses to cover about 25 percent of the undergraduates,” Mundrane said.

But only about 2,600 students downloaded the software each year, and only about 1,000 students renewed their licenses the following year, he said.

This year, in lieu of providing licenses to all students, Mundrane said his office has purchased individual licenses for students in certain majors, such as art, journalism and digital media and design, who require the software for their classes.

“I probably bought over 1,000 licenses already this year,” Mundrane said. “I bought licenses for all those students that required Adobe as a condition of their major.”

For some students, like seventh-semester journalism and communications double major, Grace Gagnon, this new arrangement works well.

“It’s the same, there’s been no issue really,” Gagnon said.

Though the licenses come to students through a different system, they still provide the same programs, including Photoshop and Illustrator.

The best thing would be if all of our students, majors and non-majors, had access all the time, but it’s not in anybody’s best interest to spend large amounts of money unwisely.
— Journalism Head Maureen Croteau

Gagnon said she was relieved to find out that she would still be receiving the software for free at the start of this semester.

“I just kind of figured that I would just have to pay for it,” Gagnon said.

But the loss of the school’s contract with Adobe has caused problems for other students who do not major in fields that still get free licenses.

Laura Sendlein, a seventh-semester English major and studio art minor, said she was not able to get the Adobe Suite, even though it is required for some of the classes in her minor, and ultimately had to pay for the software herself.

“It’s $120 for the year,” Sendlein said. “That $10 per month gives you Photoshop, but it doesn’t give you Illustrator or any of the other programs.”

Student pricing for the full suite is $20 per month for the first year and $30 per month for the following years, with a mandatory one-year commitment, Mundrane said.

People minoring in disciplines that require the software cannot currently get it free through the university, Mundrane said.

“We have to draw the line, and where we drew the line is with those students who have the product required for their declared major,” Mundrane said.

The options for students who do not receive the software for free but do not want to buy it are two-fold, Mundrane said. Students can use the programs for free on new computers in the library and other locations around campus, or they can access a list of free programs that perform similar functions.

Journalism Department Head Maureen Croteau said that while alternatives may work for some students, it won’t work for the journalism department.

Many students at UConn, including journalism majors, rely on Adobe Creative Cloud to get knowledge of software they'll use in the real world. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

“Our students are entering a profession where Adobe is the language that is spoken,” Croteau said.

Sendlein said she tried using other programs in her graphic design class, but ran into trouble when the professor posted video tutorials online that did not match up with the layout of the alternative software.

“I used [Photoshop clone] Gimp for a little while, but it’s difficult for this class,” she said.

Mundrane said these other programs may not work for everyone.

“Many of these alternatives are good for less rigorous use,” he said.

The university now only spends about half as much as it used to on Adobe licenses, Mundrane said. However, there are about 1,800 fewer student licenses available. The difference in cost funded an upgrade to library computers.

“We used the money to replace all the hardware in the libraries, so those are all new PCs and Macs, and we put Creative Cloud on all those machines,” Mundrane said.

Croteau said public computers outfitted with Adobe software, like those in the library and several classrooms in the journalism department, can be valuable resources for students taking journalism classes who are not journalism majors.

“We certainly urge them to use the computers here,” Croteau said.

Though the situation is not ideal, it is working for the time being, Croteau said.

“The best thing would be if all of our students, majors and non-majors, had access all the time,” Croteau said. “But it’s not in anybody’s best interest to spend large amounts of money unwisely.”

Mundrane said he is still in regular contact with Adobe.

“I’m continuing to meet with them,” Mundrane said. “The company is listening. I don’t know how far I’ll take it, but I haven’t let go of this issue.”


Charlie Smart is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at charles.smart@uconn.edu.