UNC-Greensboro Drops Laptop Requirement to Cut Costs

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has decided to eliminate its requirement that students own laptops, citing cost-cutting pressures prompted by an ailing economy.

While in years past the university was able to offer its neediest students grants to purchase laptops to meet the requirement, administrators decided to divert that grant money elsewhere to protect “essential services and programs,” such as library resources and graduate assistantships, said David Perrin, the university’s provost, in an interview today. Out of concern for students who would no longer be able to obtain grants, the university decided to drop its laptop requirement. The decision was made both because administrators did not want to force students to buy laptops without aid and because they believed that the program was no longer as necessary as it once was, he said.

“Ten years ago this was a very innovative and progressive thing,” Mr. Perrin said. “But today, I think the vast majority of students are coming to college with computers.”

Mr. Perrin said that he does not think the change will deprive needy students of access to computers. Many classrooms have laptop carts so that students can borrow a machine, he said, and the campus has several computer labs.

Ray Brown, the director of institutional research for Westminster College, who studies laptop-requirement programs, said he was not surprised that a college would decide to eliminate a laptop requirement in such dire economic times. But he predicted that most colleges will likely preserve such programs — especially as laptop prices continue to fall — because the benefits of equipping students with laptops outweigh their cost. —David Shieh

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