The University of Kentucky (UK) is partnering with Apple to give every incoming freshman an iPad and accessories later this year.
About 700 students this summer and thousands more in the fall will receive an iPad Air, an Apple Pencil, and an Apple Smart Keyboard as part of a broader “Smart Campus” digital strategy, UK officials announced this week.
UK’s board of trustees officially agreed to allot $1.5 million in funding to buy 5,900 sets of Apple products for the first-year 2019 students. According to local media outlet The Courier-Journal, the university also plans to outfit incoming classes with iPads and accessories in the future as well.
The goal, according to school officials, is to improve graduation rates and help level the technological playing field for incoming freshman by providing them with the same tools.
In addition, the university also has plans to develop proprietary apps aimed at the student body with a little help from Apple. Faculty, students and staff members will work together to create the UK-exclusive apps, which are meant to help incoming freshmen transition from high school to college.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, three UK students have already been invited to Apple’s Enterprise Design Lab in Cupertino to spearhead the app’s development. As mentioned, Apple will provide help along the way as part of a “growing relationship” with the college, The Courier-Journal reported.
Those iPads are just one part of UK’s “Smart Campus” digital strategy, which is aimed at leveraging technology to improve student mental, physical and financial wellbeing, in addition to improving coding and app development skills.
UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday said that the Apple devices and accessories will help close the digital divide on campus. Monday visited Apple’s Bay Area headquarters last year.
The iPads will come pre-loaded with educational apps that could help kickstart their college runs, including platforms that allow them to connect academic advisers and apps that help them build portfolios and resumes.
“This is all about student success,” said UK Provost Dave Blackwell, adding that “it aligns with Apple’s mission to affect people’s lives with technology.”