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Summary

From October 2022, new DAMTP and DPMMS PhD students will no longer receive a departmental desktop computer in their office.  Each department will instead provide peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse) for a student to connect to a laptop.

Your Department is able to offer financial support for certain expenses you may incur in the course of your PhD. Admissible expenses include purchase of a laptop (up to a maximum contribution of £750, inclusive of VAT) and conferences and other academic visits. We will ensure that you are able to purchase a laptop if needed. Total funds available to each student are limited.

Students are responsible for maintaining and backing-up their own laptops.  If the student wishes to purchase a laptop costing more than £750, the shortfall should come from the student or research group. The choice of laptop and operating system will be up to the student, although we recommend purchasing a machine with a 3-year warranty.  Laptops (but not peripherals) purchased in this way are expected to remain the property of the student after completion of  their PhD.

Details

Background

Historically there has been a tradition of providing departmental-maintained Linux desktops to all PhD students. In recent years, there has been a trend for students to prefer working on laptops. The pandemic has reinforced the advantages of laptops for working away from the department. The large number of desktops currently in mathematics provides a significant burden for the IT team to maintain.

Support / maintenance

The student will be responsible for all hardware and software maintenance on the machine. The IT team will provide advice for access to departmental services (e.g. file stores, compute servers) from laptops. Backups of the laptops will be the responsibility of the student, but the IT website has recommendations.

Desktops

If there is a specific need for a PhD student to have a departmental-maintained Linux desktop then the supervisor should make a request to help@maths.cam.ca.uk explaining the rationale. This request should note if there are group funds to purchase a new desktop, or if an existing machine from within the research group can be moved. If there are no group resources available, an existing desktop from the current stock may be made available.

Connectivity

Although some offices have wired Ethernet connections for laptops, there are likely to be more laptops than Ethernet connections within our current network. As desktops are removed from offices over the coming years, this may free up ports; unfortunately, our current network makes it somewhat time-consuming to switch them from desktop to laptop connectivity.  Meanwhile, however, wireless connectivity via Eduroam should be available in all offices throughout CMS.

Process

If the student is requesting departmental support to purchase their own laptop, they should write to their departmental administrator (dpmmssec@maths.cam.ac.uk or damtpsec@maths.cam.ac.uk) requesting funds of up to £750. This correspondence should note any sources of funds available to the student (stipend / college support / research funds) and the value of the laptop they plan to purchase.  If the request for funds is approved, once the student has purchased the laptop, an FDA1 Students expense claim form, together with receipt of purchase and copy of the approval email, should be submitted to your Department Finance Office (finance@dpmms.cam.ac.uk or finance@damtp.cam.ac.uk) for reimbursement.

Requests for peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse) should be sent to help@maths.cam.ac.uk.  Due to the diverse nature of laptops, we will be unable to provide chargers or cases.  Some USB C 5-in-1 connectors may also be available, but again their utility will depend on the laptop.  These peripherals should remain within CMS.  The student will be expected to return the monitor (but not keyboard, mouse, or USB C connectors) to the help team once they have finished their PhD.  (A note will be kept of the serial number of the monitor provided to the student.)