Students react to end of UConn-Adobe contract

UConn students have free access to all Adobe software through creative cloud, provided by UConn Technology Information Services. UTIS are not willing to continue purchasing the license from Adobe softwares for 2017. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus) 

Students are expected to lose access to key design software when the University of Connecticut’s contract for Adobe Creative Cloud products expires on May 31.

Michael Mundrane, the Vice Provost for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, explained that UConn entered into a three-year contract with Adobe for approximately $450,000 a year.  The contract gave a block of individual licenses that granted students a one-year renewable subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. The new contract Adobe offered came at a much higher price, Mundrane said.  

Over the life of the contract, students have made 9,000 unique downloads and about 2,000 renewals for the software, according to Mundrane. Mundrane said the renewals came from students in programs that specifically require the software.

“UITS is currently working with a number of deans to explore alternatives for programs that will be impacted and we are actively engaged in discussions with Adobe,” Mundrane said.

After May 31, UConn students will have to pay for software using Adobe’s educational rate, which Mundrane said is $20 per month or $240 per year. In the second year, the price increases to $30 per month or $360 per year.  

Mundrane said the cost for educational pricing is significantly higher than “the consortium rate that the university obtains for licenses that it deploys on university owned equipment.” This is one of the key points of current discussions between UConn and Adobe, Mundrane said.

Marie Shanahan, a professor in the department of journalism, said if students only had access to Adobe on university computers, it would change their schedules and how they manage their time. Students in the journalism department frequently use Adobe In Design, Premiere, Audition and more for classes in online journalism, photo journalism, layout and design and more.

“They’re going to have to go find a machine within the department or within the university that’s not being used by someone else, while that building is open, during those hours, and use the programs there,” Shanahan said.

Lorraine Carlucci, an eighth-semester communication major said she relies heavily on the Adobe Creative Cloud products and would be lost without it. She said students could have trouble paying for it on their own.

“I personally can’t afford the software without the university’s contract. I doubt that there are many students who would be able to,” Carlucci said.

Hunter Young, a sixth-semester digital media and design major, also relies on Adobe products.

“I use the Adobe suite pretty much everyday,” Young said. “It’s the cornerstone of every DMD major as well as the School of Fine Arts as a whole.”

DMD majors especially said they use Adobe products like Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Audition, Lightroom and InDesign on a daily basis.

Students at the Daily Campus utilize Adobe programs everyday to design and publish the school's newspaper. Other media organizations, such as UCTV and Nutmeg, depend on Adobe programs as well. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus) 

Students at the Daily Campus utilize Adobe programs everyday to design and publish the school's newspaper. Other media organizations, such as UCTV and Nutmeg, depend on Adobe programs as well. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus) 

In addition, students also stressed the importance of having access to the software for work. Besides being a large part of a student’s academics in majors like DMD, journalism and communication, students in media organizations such as UCTV, The Daily Campus and Nutmeg Publishing rely on the software.

Grace Gagnon is a sixth-semester journalism and communication and is involved at UCTV.

“Most of the news anchors and reporters edit all of their final products on Adobe Premiere,” Gagnon said.

The end of this agreement does not impact faculty and staff computers and other university owned equipment. Mundrane said the licensing for university owned equipment is reviewed annually and UITS is investing in licensing for equipment “in a number of lab settings.”

Students also expressed concern over having to share public computers with the Adobe license.

“The number of students far outnumbers the amount of computers,” Robin Simon, a sixth-semester DMD major, said.

Matt Bilmes, another sixth-semester DMD major, said that sharing computers would be a hassle as the editing and rendering processes are very time consuming.

“A project in the creative suite can take hours just rendering,” Bilmes said.

Mike Carlson, a sixth-semester DMD major, said it would be inconvenient to depend on university computers, especially on rainy or snowy days when commuters would have trouble getting to the library or classroom buildings.

UITS is currently investing in more hardware and software, Mundrane said.

(Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

(Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

In addition, Mundrane said UITS is “organizing a collection of alternate software tools that have the potential to meet some basic needs.”

Several students emphasized that Adobe is the industry standard for digital media fields and said there is not a replacement for it.

“I just don’t think there’s software as nice as Adobe so it would be unfortunate to have to learn something that’s not as good quality as Photoshop or InDesign or Premiere,” Gagnon said.

Shanahan said she currently teaches her students the Adobe version of products, but will also show them the alternate free online version. Though there are many online tools available, she would be afraid that UConn students would not be as prepared as other graduating college students if they didn’t have access to Adobe.

“Your cutting-edge, high-tech companies that we want our students to get jobs at are going to have the best sort of software,” Shanahan said.

Gagnon said students should be able to continue to have access to Adobe on their personal devices.  

“If it’s required for a job, then that should be part of our education and one of the fundamental things provided to students if employers are requiring it,” Gagnon said.

Mundrane said the university currently has an agreement with Microsoft and recently entered into an agreement with the provider of the Matlab suite. These are available on university and personal devices.

“UITS will continue to explore software investments that are broadly useful to students and to negotiate agreements that represent good value,” Mundrane said.

DMD students received an email Tuesday saying the DMD department is working with both the School of Fine Arts and leadership at UITS to ensure students have access to Adobe.

Deans from the School of Fine Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences couldn’t be reached in time for comment before publication.


“It’s difficult to cut something that has so much of an impact because I don’t think anybody realizes how big the impact will be until it happens,” Simon said.


Amanda Cabral is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at amanda.cabral@uconn.edu