Fine print failure: Loss of Adobe suite leaves students and staff bitter

Andrew Sheeler / Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 20, 2011

Until this year, UAF students could access several programs from the Adobe Creative Suite on their personal computers, free of charge, as long as their computers were within the campus network. Beginning this fall, that option is no longer available.

Karl Kowalski, chief information technology officer for the University of Alaska, said he made the decision to remove the Adobe Creative Suite after Adobe informed him UAF was not properly using their software licenses. Adobe came to this conclusion after conducting a random software audit in February.

“None of our licensing allows anyone, staff or students, to download on personal computers,” Kowalski said. The Adobe Creative Suite license grants UAF users access to Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop Extended. Kowalski said students were never meant to be able to download the Creative Suite programs on their laptop. Their ability to do so was a “loophole” in the system. While UAF could acquire a license that would allow students to continue downloading Creative Suite software in the same way, Kowalski said the cost “would be astronomical” to the university.

The first step to get in compliance with Adobe, Kowalski said, was to remove student access by creating a log-in gateway on the software download website. When students log in, they have a limited selection of software available to them. Programs include EndNote, Mozilla FireFox and Thunderbird, and an antivirus program by Symantec. EndNote is a citation assistance program, FireFox an internet browser, and Thunderbird its accompanying email client.

While staff and faculty are allowed to access the Adobe Creative Suite from home on a UAF-provided computer, they will soon need to create a virtual private network (VPN) that must connect to the UAF system before they can access the software.

Miho Aoki, a digital art and design instructor at UAF’s Art Department, requires her students to have access to Adobe software.

“If a student brings their own laptop to my class, it frees up a lab computer for another student,” Aoki said in an email interview. She added that the ability to download the suite free from OIT “was a great option for students. It’s unfortunate that the rule had to be changed.”

Dave Partee is another instructor who relies on Adobe programs for class. Partee teaches website design and other related classes. “Many students take classes that are focused on, or make extensive use of Adobe software including Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver. Adobe Creative Suite software is quite expensive, and in my experience education discounts are less generous and harder to find than they used to be,” Partee said in an email.

Students who can’t afford to purchase the Creative Suite programs — it costs $899 to purchase for students to buy them with the education discount from Adobe — can still access them from most UAF computer labs, Kowalski said. The Bunnell Room 319 lab, the Rasmuson Library lab and the computer lab at the Moore-Bartlett-Skarland Complex all have the software installed.

Kowalski also encouraged students to “speak up and let us know” if they have any questions, comments or concerns about this or other computer related issues at UAF. Students can email him at Students can visit to download UAF licensed software.

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1 Response

  1. Andrew says:

    Not surprised to hear Adobe cracking down, they’re struggling to make up for the fact Flash is losing ground and an academic version of CS 5.5 sells for $450 so for every license that’s being “given away” to UAF students they’re essentially losing a potential sale. Nice to see the CITO actually offering direct help to students there, unusual to see.

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