IT support and guidance

Find out what IT tools and support is available to help you get the most out of your studies.

Access to computers

We have many communal computers in libraries and other study spaces for your work. Availability and access to these computers may be limited in the current coronavirus environment.

You may not be on campus while studying and need to access resources and teaching remotely. We strongly recommend that you buy a computer to give you the flexibility to work from home or student accommodation.

What type of computer to buy

We recommend you have a laptop to support your studies. 

Laptop

Consider if you need:

  • lightweight model to carry to with you during the day
  • a large screen and discrete graphics card for high-resolution imaging
  • capacity to run specialist software (check with your School for the minimum specifications)
  • extended battery life
  • connectors for external devices
  • inbuilt camera and microphone
  • software of hardware for accessibility requirements
  • a large hard drive.

Check with your school for the minimum specifications for your device, especially if you might need to use specialist software as part of your course.

Desktop

You may need a desktop computer if you have specialist needs such as:

  • High-powered tasks such as video editing, computer simulation or creating 3D graphics
  • Connecting to specialist external equipment (for example, as part of a music recording studio)
  • Specialist accessibility requirements (for example, larger screens)

Operating systems

When you choose an operating system consider:

  • what specialist software will you use for your studies
  • whether you will connect devices which require a specific operating system.

Contact your school to find out if you need to use specialist software or external devices for your course, and what operating systems will work with them.

Buying a second-hand computer

A second-hand computer may be cheaper than a new one, but be aware of potential problems:

  • A second-hand computer will not have a warranty and is more likely to break due to previous use
  • The software installed by the previous owner might be unlicensed and not work correctly. If it is unlicensed you will not be able to install security updates, which will prevent you from joining the University wireless network
  • If it is very old and security updates are not available it will be vulnerable to viruses and other malware.

Keep safe

Make sure that your computer has antivirus software installed, to protect you and your data. There are good, free antivirus applications available, rather than purchasing expensive alternatives from your laptop vendor. For more information see our information on how to protect your computer and data.

Discounts for personal purchase

We have discount schemes available to current students when buying a personal computer. You will need to be registered student to access these schemes. Discounts include:

Laptop loans

We can loan you a laptop for a fixed period of time if you are waiting for your laptop to be repaired or replaced. Contact the IT Service Desk to request a loan clearly explaining the reasons why you need one.

Printers, webcams and headsets

Printers

Printers are available in study spaces around campus and in many residences. You can send documents to the printing system from your own devices and collect them later.
There is a fee to use the printers, but this will probably be less than the price of a printer and ink over the course of your studies. It is also more sustainable.

You may choose to buy a printer for personal use. We cannot make recommendations for any particular model of printer. 
Wireless printers cannot connect to Eduroam (University wireless). If you bring one to a university residence, you’ll need to bring a USB cable to connect it to your laptop.

Webcams and headsets

Webcams and headsets can help improve the quality of online communications and meetings. Cameras built into laptops are normally fine but if not, you might consider buying a webcam. A headset with a microphone will often improve the quality of audio when you are talking to someone.

Financial support for buying a computer, additional hardware or home broadband

Contact our student funding advisers to find out what emergency and hardship funds and support may be available.

Software and online resources

We aim to provide you with software and tools to enable you to study, communicate and collaborate with lecturers and fellow students.

Access to online tool for communications and collaboration – Microsoft Office 365

Some software is available for personal use either for free or at a reduced cost once you are a registered student.

  • Microsoft Office 365 is available for free to install on up to five personally owned devices. This is the full version of Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive for Business. Install Office 365.
  • OneDrive for Business for document storage and sharing
  • Microsoft Teams for instant messaging, video calls and collaborative working.

Look at the Microsoft 365 support site (UoB access only)

This and other course-specific specialist software, is available once you have registered with us (normally a week or so before the start of your course).

Software

Many resources are available to use both on site and outside of the campus. Where possible specialist software needed for a course will be available to either:

Find out what software is available to download free of charge or at a reduced rate. (UoB access only).

Library online resources

The library has wide range of resources available online. Look at our guidance on accessing the library's electronic resources.

Wifi and internet access

Good, reliable internet connectivity is important to access learning resources and online teaching.

On campus or in University residences

If you are in a university residence or are campus you will have access to eduroam, our University wireless service. Find out how to get connected to eduroam wireless.

Off campus or in private accommodation

You may find your internet performance isn't good enough. Unfortunately, we cannot directly assist in improving your home broadband services or make recommendations for any particular provider.

We have gathered guidance from reliable sources which gives advice on what you can do.

If you have slow or poor wifi

If you have slow or poor internet connection in your flat, find out how to manage your online studies and what support is available.

Troubleshooting common broadband issues

Your internet service provider will often provide advice and support.

Remember: home and mobile broadband connections are usually slower to upload than download.

Get the best deal from a broadband provider

If you don't have a broadband connection

Read: government measures agreed with telecoms companies to support vulnerable consumers through COVID-19

IT support and contacts

Support

  • Our IT Service Desk (UoB access only) is here to help you on and off campus.
  • The free Laptop and Mobile Clinic (UoB access only) provides advice and support for connecting to University systems and general issues.
    This support is currently online.

Contact us

IT: get started

Get familiar with the systems you will use and the tools available to help you get the most out of your learning.

Student digital equity policy

We are committed to ensuring that all students have equitable access to digital teaching, learning and assessment. Download our Student digital equity policy (PDF, 199kB).

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