Computer purchasing and deployment

Introduction and Purpose

Approved by IT Governance Committee October 2015

This policy covers the selection, purchase, deployment and disposal of desktop and laptop computers by the University on behalf of its staff. The policy replaces the previous “Desktop & Laptop Policy” agreed in 2010.

A University-wide policy is required in order to minimise the costs and risks inherent in purchasing and supporting a large estate of IT equipment in use by a diverse user group. The cost of purchasing computers for staff across the University is significant – however, it should be noted that the initial purchase price typically constitutes around a third of the overall cost of a device, the remainder being made up of support, licensing, underlying infrastructure and disposal. All of these cost components can only be controlled through adopting a standardised approach to the purchase of computers, although flexibility is still required to accommodate the specialist activity taking place across a university.


This policy applies to all personal computers and Apple Macs (either in desktop or laptop versions) purchased using University funds for the use of temporary and permanent staff in their normal duties.

The policy excludes tablet devices (such as Apple iPads) and mobile phones running mobile-specific operating systems, such as iOS and Android. Such devices will be covered by separate policies.

Any equipment purchased as an exception to this policy will receive only the third tier of support as set out in as set out in the service level section of the Computer Purchasing and Deployment Policy.

Other exclusions include:

  • Equipment required for specialist teaching or research where specific requirements cannot be met by approved suppliers;
  • The hardware purchased for deployment in computing labs, although many of the same principles will apply;
  • Specialised servers, storage and core infrastructure purchased by IT Services, which are subject to separate procurement policies and technical requirements.

Procurement Approach

Due to the total volume of computer equipment purchased across the University, all such purchases are subject to EU procurement legislation. The only means of purchasing computer equipment that is fully compliant with this legislation is via the University’s approved supplier.

This supplier has been selected with the support of the University’s Procurement team following a tendering process using the National Desktop and Notebook Agreement (NDNA) for Higher Education, which employs fair and transparent selection criteria and ensures prices and service levels are optimised for the University. The supplier agreement is based around a standard selection of desktop and laptop computers designed to meet the vast majority of staff requirements, however it also allows for other equipment and variations to be purchased at preferential rates and with guaranteed levels of support.

The standard models available are kept under review with the supplier to ensure suitability. There are currently three desktop and three laptop models available for selection. All standard models are corporate-specific rather than consumer-focused models, designed to be supportable by the staff and infrastructure of the University.

This supplier agreement is proactively reviewed by IT Services and is subject to renewal on an annual basis, thereby giving the University the opportunity to go to market again should pricing, quality or service levels prove unsatisfactory.


The following principles apply to the purchase of computer equipment as defined under the scope of the policy:

  1. Computers purchased by the University from its operating budgets remain the property of the University for their lifetime. Access to any such computer by members of staff is subject to all relevant policies (including the Acceptable Use Policy) and can be withdrawn at any time.
  2. It is expected that each member of staff will receive a single computer in order to carry out their role, subject to the approval of their line manager and/or the budget holder (with the exception of individuals with multiple roles within the University). Exceptions to this, such as the purchase of both a desktop and laptop for an individual, will require approval by the School Operations Manager or Head of Professional Service as per the exceptions process.
  3. It is expected that the majority of staff will receive a desktop computer, except where staff are expected to work in multiple locations or attend frequent meetings, in which case a laptop may be considered. Where laptops are purchased, a desktop docking station and monitor should also be considered and budgeted for.
  4. Computers must be purchased from the University’s approved supplier and from the list of standard models. Increases in the amount of memory or device storage may also be purchased without the need for additional approval. Any exceptions beyond this must be approved.
  5. PC Computers will utilise the IT Services-supported core Windows build and comply fully with the University’s Software Policy. New computers will be configured in compliance with a naming convention that is machine-specific, stays with the machine for the life of the device and indicates the type of device (e.g., laptop/desktop/server etc.)
  6. To enable efficient management and support over its lifetime, basic information on all University-owned computers must be recorded at the time of deployment.
  7. The purchase of an Apple computer can incur a significantly higher total cost of ownership across its lifecycle. Apple computers within the University do not receive the same level of support as the standard Windows desktop service and certain University services cannot be guaranteed to operate with an Apple device. However, it is recognised that certain specialist requirements necessitate the use of Apple operating systems or Apple-specific software for teaching and research and so exceptions can be made with the approval of the School Operations Manager or Head of Professional Service using the process below. Users of Apple computers must be made aware that they will receive a reduced level of service as summarised below and that support is only available for devices running Mac OS X (current release and single previous OS only).
  8. Computers in good working order must not be replaced before 4 years of operation, provided they remain fit for purpose and continue to meet the IT Services base performance requirements. After 4 years, computers should be assessed for their fitness-for-purpose and support requirements before being replaced or re-allocated. This ensures the University achieves maximum value for its investment and is in line with industry standards.
  9. Should a member of staff leave the University or organisational unit, their computer will be re-allocated to another member of staff if it is less than 4 years old.
  10. Schools and Professional Services must maintain suitable budget provision to maintain a replacement cycle for their staff as above.
  11. Due consideration must be given to physical security of computers, particularly in open-plan offices or computer labs. Advice should be sought from Security on the most effective means of securing computers but anti-theft devices with steel locking bars and drill resistant locks have been shown to be most effective.
  12. Computers must not be retained by (or sold to) staff or students should they leave the University or if the device reaches end-of-life. This is for reasons of information security, software licence compliance and compliance with regulations on the disposal of electronic equipment.
  13. Computers must be disposed of in accordance with the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) regulations via the University's approved contractor. Processes and guidelines for the disposal of electronic equipment are maintained by the University’s Sustainability team.

Exceptions Process

The normal process for any computer procurement deviating from the principles above is to gain approval as follows:

  • Exceptions must be approved by the School Operations Manager / Head of Professional Service or an individual with their delegated authority
  • The approval of an exceptional purchase must be logged with the IT Services Service Desk. This will facilitate the analysis and ongoing support of exception requests
  • Commonly approved exceptions will be incorporated into future versions of the standard specifications

Service Levels

The service available is in three, distinct tiers as per Table 1 of the Computer Purchasing and Deployment Policy above. Support for anything beyond what is listed here is provided, where possible, on a best endeavours basis and can be accessed by bringing the device to the PC Clinic during standard opening hours.

Additional software may be installed by arrangement with local IT support staff (subject to appropriate licenses being available) – in these cases, installation and ongoing support of that software will only be available from local staff at their discretion.

Windows on approved hardware

  • Normally procured, configured and delivered in 7 working days
  • Same-day repair or replace service for faulty hardware
  • Anti-virus installed and updated daily
  • Security patches and updates applied frequently and without user intervention
  • Over 30 software tools installed by default, including Microsoft Office Professional, Outlook, Cisco Jabber etc
  • Suitable for accessing all University systems
  • Pre-configured printing, network storage (“workspaces”) and wireless access (for laptops)
  • “Administrator” access to device available on request
  • Software for secure access to University network from off-campus installed

Apple Mac (running Mac OS X) Note: Current release and single previous OS only

  • Delivery time is subject to availability
  • Faulty hardware replaced as per Apple’s consumer warranty terms
  • Anti-virus software supplied, updates to be downloaded and installed by users
  • Security patches from Apple to be downloaded and installed by users
  • Self-service printing configuration
  • Self-service storage (“workspaces”) configuration
  • Self-service wireless connection (for laptops and iMacs)
  • Email access via web browser
  • Some University systems may not be compatible - “Virtual desktop” available as alternative access method
  • No software installed beyond Apple standard

All others (including Linux devices and staff’s own computers)

  • Software for secure access to University network from off-campus available but not installed (for Mac, Windows, iOS and some versions of Linux/Unix)
  • Wired and wireless connection available but not automatically configured
  • Email access via web browser
  • Some University systems may not be compatible - “Virtual desktop” available as alternative access method