Computers Provided by CSE


  • CSE provides one working computer for each staff member and researcher paid for by CSE operating funds.
  • The computer is UNSW property and is bought from CSE operating funds.
  • It must be returned to CSE as soon as the person leaves CSE.
  • If the computer fails, CSE will pay for it to be repaired or replaced. (If damage occurs due to negligence the Head of School may reconsider this policy.)
  • The computer is intended for general daily computing tasks. More powerful or specialised computers must be bought using other funds.
  • Only a small number of makes and models will be supplied under this policy.
Please read this page fully before completing a request form

If you have questions about this policy please see our FAQ page.

What this policy covers

This policy directs CSE to provide one computer for each higher-degree research student and staff member whose salary is paid from CSE operating funds. It is intended that the computer be the person's primary work computer while they are working at CSE.

The computer will be funded by operating equipment funds. Where a special research need exists other funds can be used to pay for some enhancements.

To qualify for any operating funds the purchase must come from a UNSW preferred supplier.

When the computer stops working, or is not able to perform normal computing tasks it will be replaced by CSE.

The computer and associated peripherals remain the property of UNSW and must be returned when the persons association with CSE ends.

Equipment that is still useful will be reallocated at the discretion of the Computer Support Group (CSG).

Who this policy covers

People this policy does not cover

Many funded contract research positions support the full cost of research. Such contracts should fund equipment instead of CSE operating funds unless otherwise agreed by the Head of School.

People this policy covers

Academics and other Researchers

This is anyone who is a:

  • Higher Degree Research Student
  • Academic Staff Member (Teaching, Research …), or
  • Research Support Staff Member paid by CSE operating funds
  • Not a short-term or Exchange Student.
These people are referred to as "Researchers" in the rest of this document.

Researchers will be provided with a computer according to the rules in the sections below:

Visiting Academics and short-term Researchers

Generally, people on casual, short-term, exchange, or visiting appointments to CSE will be given access to shared office space (Visitor Lounge) in CSE.

Such people will have:
  • A personal UNSW computer account, giving access to our computing resources.
  • Computing resources such as file storage, wireless networking, remote login servers (Linux) and printing.
  • Shared-access desktop computers running mainstream operating systems (presently Windows, macOS or Ubuntu-Linux) which will be available to use in the Visitor office space. (The computers are shared, so administrator control will not be granted.)
  • Desks for comfortable laptop use, fitted with monitors, keyboards and mice.
Once a computer account is set up, any problems using these resources can be resolved quickly by CSE's Computer Support Group (CSG).

Special arrangements will need to be made for visitors who will use private office or need exclusive use of a workstation computer. They will be given a working computer from spare equipment that CSG or an academic can make available. The computer will be similar to one a researcher might receive.

Administration staff

They will be given a computer according to their duties. This will be determined by their supervisor and the Computer Support Group.

Your Primary Work Computer

Most researchers will just need an ordinary computer to work on and may use other shared servers for intensive computing tasks. In that case they will select a computer from our standard equipment list.

The list will be updated periodically, depending on market availability, technical merit, WH&S guidelines and UNSW computer purchase guidelines.

If you want to buy an Apple computer so you can run Windows or Linux...

While Apple hardware has many fine qualities it is currently more expensive, while having less RAM and slower CPUs, than a PC equivalent (currently HP). Therefore, CSE supplies Apple hardware just for those researchers who intend running macOS as their primary OS. If you plan to run Windows or Linux you are encouraged to select a PC-style computer instead of an Apple.

You may instead want to run both macOS and Windows or Linux in a dual-boot arrangement. Although this is achievable, CSG do-not setup or support dual-boot environments on self-admin machines for a number of reasons. Options and alternatives to dual-booting are explained on our Dual-boot FAQ page.

Extra Software

Some common software is covered by site licences at CSE and can be installed on the computer by the researcher at no extra cost. Software that CSE is not already licensed to use should be paid for by special research funds.

A Special Primary Work Computer

If you have a special research requirement for an enhanced computer it can be bought instead of one from the standard list. CSE will provide funding equivalent to that of a standard computer from the list. Any additional cost must be paid from your UNSW research funds. CSE will not use your personal money to buy a computer. It must be the computer you sit at and use daily. If it is significantly different from a standard computer then CSE will not provide operating funds. See: Guidelines for Equipment Selection. The purchase must include, or these items must already be available:
  • screen and keyboard
  • cable lock if the computer is a laptop, or is kept at CSE.
  • at least three years on-site warranty.
This is a requirement for good OHS practice and to keep the equipment useful for longer. These items must be used with the computer for it to qualify for any operating funds. The cost of these items cannot be discounted against the cost of the computer. eg: Supplying your own monitor does not mean we charge you less to buy extra RAM. The computer remains the property of CSE and, if the person using it leaves CSE, it will be reallocated at the discretion of the Computer Support Group. Due consideration will be given to reallocation the computer within the research group that partly funded it.

How to obtain a CSE supplied computer

To apply for a standard CSE desktop computer, you will need to : To apply for a non-standard CSE desktop, you will need to : To apply for a CSE notebook (laptop), you will require:

Computers not from a UNSW Preferred Supplier

CSE operating funds cannot be used to purchase a computer that is not from a UNSW preferred supplier. The purchase must be paid for wholly from research funds or other funds. Such purchases are outside the scope of this policy. CSE can provide computer peripherals such as a monitor or external harddisk.

Replacement of old, faulty, or lost computers

The end-of-life for a computer will be defined by CSE asset disposal policies. When the computer reaches its end-of-life CSE will provide the researcher with a replacement computer from operating funds. Before the end-of-life the following rules apply:
  • Faults will be repaired under warranty where possible.
  • If a computer has been damaged, lost, or stolen then the researcher must provide the Head of School's office with an explanation of what happened to the computer and an assurance they exercised all due care for the computer. The Head of School will decide what replacement computer CSE will provide to the researcher.
  • CSE will supply one power supply per laptop. If the power supply is lost then CSE will not buy another. (But you may use you own research funds to buy one.) Failed power supplies will be replaced, typically under warranty, so long as the failed device is returned to CSG.
  • If the computer cannot be used for normal research computing tasks because it is not powerful enough it will be replaced with one that is. Note that for special computing requirements additional funds may be required to purchase newer or more powerful equipment.
  • If the computer cannot be used for normal research computing tasks due to hardware failure it will be fixed under warranty. If it cannot be fixed under warranty it will be replaced by a similar or better computer.
  • The replacement computer will be funded by operating funds. Note that CSE will only provide enough funds to replace your equipment to the point where you would have a standard working computer.
  • Laptop batteries are not covered by warranty in the same way as the rest of the laptop. CSE will replace a laptop battery if it fails before the end-of-life of the computer and if replacement batteries are still available from the supplier.
CSE will not:
  • Replace one of your two computers if one of them still works
  • Pay the full replacement cost of a high-end workstation
  • Replace an item you bought for your computer — not one of our standard supply.

When the person already has a computer

People may come to CSE with their own computer. If the computer can practically be used for CSE work we recommend the person continue to use it. For instance, a researcher might have already configured their computer to run their research software or might be comfortable with the environment they are already using. CSE can provide a new computer at a later time when the researcher's own computer is too old or fails. Peripherals, such as a monitor can be supplied if this helps the researcher use their existing computer.

Guidelines for Equipment Selection

This policy describes what computer will be bought wholly or partly from CSE operating funds. It allows some flexibility in what computers are bought to cater for the variety in legitimate computing tasks undertaken in the School. However, the policy commits the school to providing a mostly normal and generally useful computer to each person. It is not intended to subsidise the cost of a greatly enhanced computer. For a computer to be bought from operating funds these rules apply:
  • It is normally a desktop, but may be a laptop if a supervisor considers a laptop more suitable for daily work.
  • It is to be selected on suitability (rather than desirability); CSE do not support the purchase of Apple hardware for the installation of Windows in favor of macOS.
  • The user will work on the computer directly (rather than remotely) to perform most of their day-to-day computing tasks.
  • It is able to run desktop applications as well as software for programming and compiling.
  • It is expected to remain useful for several years so should be reasonably powerful.
  • It is easy and inexpensive to repair. It should not be easy to damage or lose.
  • It is a good price for the capabilities CSE desires.
  • The purchase must come from a UNSW preferred supplier.
  • It is similar to other computers at CSE so it can be reassigned or swapped if the person returns it. This also means that a solution to a problem on one computer is likely to apply for many other computers at CSE.
CSE will not provide operating funds where there is a compromise on economic pricing or on general or long-term usefulness. This may be for extra computing power, aesthetics or portability. An example would be an light-weight laptop. These are generally less powerful and more likely to be damaged or stolen than a cheaper, heavier laptop. Other examples are computers with more CPU cores, RAM, disk, or other resources than is normal for a commodity computer. Such as:
  • A shared login computer with many cores
  • A high-end desktop workstation able to perform intensive computing tasks
  • An expensive laptop with a CPU and RAM normal for a desktop computer
We urge you to use the shared servers at CSE for intensive computing rather than buy a new, expensive computer for yourself.

Goals of this Policy

  • Reduce administrative burden for processing purchases
  • Simplify paperwork for those submitting requests for equipment by offering simple choices.
  • Provide a "standard working computer" to a researcher or staff member. The alternative is to ask the researcher to spend time finding vendors and selecting equipment within a funding allowance.
  • Save money by selecting more modest equipment
  • Save money and time with bulk purchases of common items (eg: laptop locks)
  • Allow a small stock of computers and monitors to be kept for immediate allocation to researchers.
Written by Robert Doran, April 8, 2010. Reviewed by: CSE Head of School Executive Officer, CSE Finance Office Manager, Computer Support Group IT Manager.
Last edited by robertd 05/09/2019

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