There are a number of reasons given and I wonder how many other schools might be considering similar moves for some of the same reasons. Here are some of those reasons and some of my own Passaic County Community College takes on them.
99% of UVA's new students brought their own laptops to the campus, so the labs are redundant. The percentage at PCCC is certainly lower. We would be dealing with a lot more than 1% of our students needing computers. Also, we are a commuter campus. Though I see students with their own laptops, the majority of students don't bring a laptop to campus. It might be because they don't have one, or because they don't want the risk or bother of commuting with it.
The UVA labs are still heavily used (651,900 hour last year) but it is primarily for web surfing and word processing which they could do just as well on their laptops. The PCCC library public lab near my office is always busy (especially the limited print stations) but I make the same observation - they are mostly reading email, watching videos, surfing and using Word.
At UVA, students use the lab computers for their specialized software (such as MatLab, Eclipse, MathCAD), but only for 5% of the time. The university plans to license the software for student laptop use. I don't know that PCCC public labs really offer any "special" software. Then again, for some of our students, having MS Office 2007 might qualify as special.
UVA plans to save money (about $300,000 yearly currently for lab maintenance) by closing labs, though the changes will still incur costs, so the actual savings is unclear.
Many students use the labs to avoid needing a personal printer; the university pays the cost for printers, toner & paper. They may need to still offer printing, scanning and other additional services. PCCC students go through a lot of printer paper and a lot of it is waste. If students needed to pay-to-print, we might go a bit greener.
This is not really a shocking educational technology change. It is certainly connected to larger conversations about changing learning spaces. Even without labs, students need spaces where they can bring their laptops and mobile devices, have network access and do collaborative work.