Recognizing that computing plays an important role in higher
education, beginning this fall the University of California,
Davis, will expect entering undergraduates to own a computer.
The recently developed guidelines state that "every entering
undergraduate student will be expected to own a computer that
meets certain minimum performance standards and that can
connect effectively to the Internet."
UC Davis is not alone in its recognition that computer
ownership can contribute to academic success. A number of
universities across the country have also implemented some
form of computer recommendation or requirement. Across the
University of California only Berkeley -- and now Davis --
have developed that type of recommendation, although several
other campuses are exploring the issue.
"There really is the expectation that students will have
handy access to a computer. At the same time, we didn't want
to make it a requirement because we're a public institution,"
said Richard Plant, a faculty member and chair of the
Academic Computing Coordinating Council that developed the
computer statement for UC Davis.
Keeping computer ownership as an expectation should allow
eligible students to receive financial aid (likely a loan
offer of up to $1,900) to buy a machine, without forcing a
purchase upon them, Plant said.
Starting this fall, Dell Computer, the campus's newly chosen
partner in this initiative, will offer students two laptop
and two desktop configurations. The least expensive desktop
is expected to cost between $1,000 and $1,200.
All systems will arrive loaded with Windows 2000, Microsoft
Office 2000, Internet Explorer, Norton Anti-Virus, Eudora and
a few other utilities -- all set up for the campus network,
said Pat Kava, a manager for UC Davis' Information and
Educational Technology department. The package will also
include a 17-inch monitor and a four-year warranty.
Although Dell is the campus's recommended vendor, students
are welcome to purchase their computers from other
manufacturers, provided they are familiar with the
recommended software package.
More than 90 percent of UC Davis students already own a
personal computer, according to Information and Educational
Technology. The department, based on Dell's projections,
hopes that about 20 percent of the entering first-year class
will buy the systems.
Students who do not have their own computers -- or who live
far off campus -- use a variety of labs across campus to work
on papers, check their e-mail and use the Internet.
Expecting students to own a computer does not represent a
revolutionary leap for UC Davis, but rather an evolutionary
step that simply affirms what undergraduate students
themselves already seem to know: that computer literacy and
ownership play a critical role in a university education.
>From using e-mail to enhance communications with instructors,
to conducting academic research, computers allow students to
accomplish a broad range of educational activities.
"In some classes, I've had to send weekly papers to the
professors through e-mail rather than submit a hard copy by
hand," said Alice Liou, a third-year animal science student.
"Luckily, having my own computer allows me to work on and
send my documents whenever I want to, even at the last
At UC Davis, a Web site -- http://computerownership.
ucdavis.edu -- has been established to provide information
about the expectation, as well as recommendations for student
computer purchases. Parents and entering undergraduate
students are also invited to e-mail
email@example.com for further information.
"Questions have been raised about the impact this expectation
will have on students," said Wall. "For the most part, the
impact will be a positive one."
The campus believes students' basic computer literacy could
increase their marketability upon graduation, Wall said. "I
think it's the students who will see the greatest benefit."
-- Richard Plant, Academic Computing Coordinating Council,
(530) 752-1705, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Pat Kava, Information and Educational Technology, (530)