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.
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 as this option gives you the greatest flexibility to work in various locations. However, there may be legitimate reasons why a desktop may be better for you - see guidance below.
Before purchasing any device we strongly advise you to check with your school if they have any guidance on which computer to get, in case your course has specialist software and/or hardware requirements.
For students studying undergraduate medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene and therapy, veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing, and those on programmes in the school of anatomy please see the IT guidance and requirements for students (Office document, 26kB).
Please contact our student funding advisers to find out what emergency and hardship funds and support is available to help you with purchasing a computer.
For the majority of students we would recommend a Windows or macOS laptop capable of running the latest operating system provided by Microsoft or Apple. We would also suggest that the computer ideally has 16GB of memory (RAM) and no less than 8GB.
Please note that teaching is primarily focused around using the Windows operating system but some schools also use Linux and/or Apple macOS based computers.
From experience we have found that Chromebooks and mobile devices (tablets and phones) are not suitable as primary devices.
Software is also available to run via the University remote desktop service - see below. This may allow you to run specialist software needed for your course, which cannot run on your personal device.
Please check with your school if they have any guidance on which computer to get, in case your course has specialist software and/or hardware requirements.
Consider if you need:
- a lightweight model to carry with you during the day
- a large screen
- discrete graphics card for high-resolution imaging/graphics intensive software
- capacity to run specialist software (check with your school)
- extended battery life
- specific ports to connect external devices (check with your school)
- inbuilt camera and microphone (recommended)
- software or hardware for accessibility requirements
- a large hard drive (recommended minimum of 500GB)
You may need a desktop computer if you have specialist needs:
- 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).
Check with your school before making a purchase.
When you choose an operating system consider:
- what specialist software you will use for your studies
- whether you will connect devices which require a specific operating system.
Contact your school to find out what operating system is best suited to your studies, and if you will need to use specialist software or external devices for your course.
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 built-in microphone will often improve the quality of audio when you are talking to someone or attending online sessions. A headset is strongly recommended if you are attending online sessions from an on-campus study space.
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.
Discounts for personal purchase
We have discount schemes available to current students when buying a personal computer. You will need to be a registered student to access these schemes. Discounts include:
- Apple products from the EDU store.
- Educational discounts available from the Apple store.
- Dell Advantage provides discounts on a range of Dell products.
- MyUniDays provides discounts on a range of products including technology.
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 may not be able to install security updates, which will prevent you from joining the University's wireless network.
- If it is very old and security updates are not available, it will be vulnerable to viruses and other malware.
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. See our information on how to protect your computer and data.
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 are available in study spaces around campus and in many residences. You can send documents to the Print Release 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. The Print Release system 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 (the University wireless network). If you bring one to a university residence, you’ll need to bring a USB cable to connect it to your computer.
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).
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:
- download on personal devices, or
- be made available through the Student Remote Desktop Service (UoB access only).
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 a wide range of resources available online. 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 the following guidance from reliable sources, giving 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 that 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
IT support and contacts
- 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.
- IT self-service site, to raise requests and report incidents (UoB access only)
- Tel: +44 (0)117 428 2100
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, 160kB).