Do universities restrict the brand or manufacturer of computers their professors are allowed to use for work?

May a PhD advisor ban certain computer brands?

Are there any restrictions on using your own funding to buy certain brands of computers?

Corporate restricts company computers allowed for security reasons but the university doesn’t technically own any of the professors work or consider it their proprietary knowledge so are they allowed the control the electronic storage system of it?

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    Answers will vary widely between universities and may even depend on national laws, therefore I voted to close the question.
    – Mark
    Jan 10, 2021 at 1:30
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    the university doesn’t technically own any of the professors work true, but if you use your computer to grade papers, it will contain personal data of students, and that is a thorny issue. Jan 10, 2021 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


University purchasing systems are very complicated and they are all different. It is common for universities to make a contract with a supplier stating that they will use that supplier exclusively in exchange for a discount. Often there will be loopholes.

Your supervisor can certainly refuse to purchase certain brands with funds the supervisor controls.

If you have a grant, you will be required to follow the university's purchasing policies.

Traditionally, most universities allow faculty and students to do their work using personal computers of any type. However, this could be limited for confidential information. There are laws limiting the use of educational and medical information which vary from place to place, and there are also policies.

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    I'll add to this that in every university I've worked in, the university will have seperate supply contracts for both Apple and PC - i've never been somewhere where PC or Apple has been mandated, but everwhere I've worked has a supply contract with a particular desktop PC brand. Jan 10, 2021 at 1:42

In general no simply because the diversity of tasks implies a diversity of solutions: some specialized softwares might run on one but not another platform.

The institution may require some security software or an approved equivalent for some parts of the administrative system (say some specific VPN to access private information), support some software but not others, etc, and thus incentivize the use or one rather than other platforms, but beyond that it is usually managed at a lower level. Members of a research group might be required to have identical platforms so that data is properly transferred and stored when accessed, but rarely much above that level.

So yes your advisor may ban certain platforms, but it’s usually not a university-wide decision.

(I know of one case where a particular shop was barred by the university - no reimbursement for anything bought there - but this is truly exceptional.)