Some students may have heard that you can get a free computer through the DSA and others may have heard that this has been scrapped. The truth is something between the two – if you are recommended certain pieces of software and do not have a suitable computer for running these programs, the DSA will provide you with funding towards the cost of a computer.
How much funding do you get
If you’re funded by Student Finance England, NHS Student Bursaries or a Research Council, you will receive a contribution toward the cost of a computer. The amount you get is based on the overall cost of a computer specification that has been agreed as sufficient for running the software that you have been recommended (see an example of this here). The price of this computer is between £300 – £400. Students must then pay £200 toward this cost, and the DSA will fund the rest. So, for between a £100 – £200 contribution, you can get a Windows laptop which will be good enough to run the software you are getting. The DSA will also fund insurance and a warranty for the computer for the duration of your course.
For students funded by Student Finance Wales or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, the full cost of a laptop can be funded through the DSA. However, this can’t be used to pay for any laptop that the student wants, this is also for the standard laptop described above.
Do I have to get this computer?
No. This computer is a good option if you have limited funds and want the cheapest laptop. However, while technically these computers meet the specification needed to run any of the software that will have been recommended, many students have provided feedback that they are not very good laptops. There is a caveat to this – if you look after it, are careful about what is installed on to it, and do some basic maintenance now and again, the laptops should be sufficient for most students’ needs.
However, if you want a better computer, and can afford to add in more of your own money, you are permitted to use the DSA funding contribution toward any computer that you want, as long as it can run the recommended software. This can be a Mac or Windows computer (but not an iPad as this cannot run the recommended software).