How Qualifications Work
The basic deciding factors are the pop’s literacy, wealth and experienced discrimination. And of course the pop they want to qualify for needs to have attraction.
A uni only gives a bonus % to that, so you’ll effectively convert more, but even without a uni pops will convert based on literacy, wealth, discrimination and attraction.
Is the location of the university important?
It’s all on state-level, the basic unit where all pop calculations happen. There is probably also some inter-state attraction possible, but that exceeds my knowledge.
So if you want the % bonus, yes, build a uni in every state. But as Bloodeagle said, it doesn’t matter as pops qualify virtually immediately anyways.