The following is the opinion of the WBS IT department (eSolutions) and is aimed at helping you choose devices that best support your learning at WBS. It does not form or contradict any formal University policy.
A number of students have asked us: "What computer should I bring to WBS?", "Is a Mac suitable or should I buy a Windows laptop?", "Will I be able to run the required software on my personal computer?" This page attempts to provide answers to some of those questions.
Do I need to have my own computer? Does it need to be powerful and expensive?
In theory it might be possible to study effectively without having a computer. Both WBS and the wider University have large student computer labs for your use 24 hours a day. Practically however you will likely find your course easier if you have your own computer. It likely doesn't have to be anything expensive or particularly powerful however. So long as it can run a recent version of the operating system (ideally Windows 7 or above) and Microsoft Office (available for you for free, see here) then it should be fine.
Do you have a discount scheme to help with computer purchases?
Unfortunately not. Many suppliers do offer student discounts however so it is always good to ask. The links below take you to two example schemes:
Could I use a tablet ( e.g. iPad) or Chromebook instead?
Tablets and Chromebooks may well assist your study. We would not however recommend them as your only computing device during your course. Lots of academic software will not be available on them.
Should I bring a PC or a Mac?
This is now less of an issue that it used to be and certainly we have lots of students with both types of device, and Mac users may even be the majority. It is changing but currently there are still some academic applications that only run on PCs. Whenever the University buys software it always enquires about Mac versions too and aims to include those if avaialble. Ultimately though there will likely be times when you need a Windows device to run some software.
How much of a problem this is may depend on you and the course you are doing. If you are following a course on campus then it may mean simply mean you have to use one of the student lab computers for a short time and it is no big deal. If you are a distance-learning student however who doesn't have access to another computer then it might be more of an issue. This can be a particular problem for students taking some statistical modules (e.g. IB8200: Modelling and Analysis for Management on the DLMBA) where students really need to be able to add the Solver and Data Analysis. As of now (February 2015) it is not possible to add these into Excel on the Mac.
Technically-confident Mac users may wish to install a Windows virtual machine on their Macs to get around this problem. The University has a licence for VMware Fusion to support this. Please see this link for the download information and guidance on how to install. Please note however that we are unable to assist you if you have problems setting this up on your personal computer. You will still need a licensed version of Windows to install on your virtual machine.
Can I get any software cheap or for free?
Sure, see http://www.warwick.ac.uk/software . In particular students should be able to get a free licence of Microsoft Office from here. There is a list of Mac-specific software for download here.
What support can I get for my personal device?
Students who live on campus are entitled to free support for their personal machines under the 'Privately owned systems support' service managed by central IT Services. Non-resident students (or staff) can purchase this service for an annual fee of GBP30 inc VAT. For more details please see below: