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IT, computer networks and printing

Choosing a personal computing device to help you through your university studies can be a difficult task and while there is no requirement to have your own computer, many students prefer the convenience of owning their own.

If you're thinking of buying a device, this quick guide is designed to help you consider your options before making a purchase.

1. Laptop computer

Laptop

A laptop can be very useful for students, especially those wanting to bring their own along to campus, as they offer a high level of flexibility for learners. Built-in wireless connectivity will also allow you to connect to the University’s wireless network and access the many online resources while on campus. However, it's worth bearing in mind that upgrading and maintaining your laptop can be quite expensive.

2. Desktop computer

Although limiting in terms of portability, a desktop machine is often regarded as the best machine to work on. If you intend to spend a lot of time working on a computer, the larger monitor and keyboard that comes with a traditional desktop machine may be more comfortable to use than other devices. Unlike a laptop, upgrading and maintaining a desktop machine is often a lot less costly.

3. Tablet PC/iPad

Girl with tablet

A tablet PC is an increasingly popular device focused on portability and low cost. While tablets are useful for reading documents and research, they may be limiting for prolonged work-related tasks such as word processing due to the lack of any pre-installed software or a keyboard, and small screen size.

4. Software applications

In relation to your studies, you are not required to purchase any particular software as our computer rooms generally contain any specialist software you will need to access. However, you may want to consider asking your tutors if they would recommend software that you would find useful for your specific course.

Remember that any software you may wish to buy and install should also be factored into your budget as it can be very expensive. University software is not licensed for use on ‘personally’ owned devices.

5. Anti-virus software

Anti-virus software is a must on your personal device. Free downloads such as Microsoft Security Essentials and ClamXav for Mac are popular with many students.

6. Printers

Printer

If you have your own computer, you may also be thinking about buying a printer. It is worth remembering that printers can be very costly to run as ink cartridges need to be constantly replaced. Remember that you will have access to the University’s chargeable printing system, allowing you to print documents at all University sites.

7. Insurance and security

All new devices are generally backed by a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty, should your device break down within this period. Your supplier may also offer an additional insurance package that covers your equipment in the event of loss, theft, breakdown or damage which you may want to consider.

8. Student benefits and discounts

As a BCU student you can access student discounts and benefits on Apple hardware, Microsoft software products and Adobe design software. To take advantage of these benefits you will normally need to make your purchase online using your student e-mail account.

Many suppliers offer discounts for students so it is always worth shopping around for the best deals. Open source software, which is freely available to download online, can offer students a cheaper alternative to some of the more well-known products.

If you are still unsure about what to buy and need more advice, please feel free to contact the University's IT team on 0121 331 6543 or by email.