Writing from the perspective of an IT professional (and former academic) who worked for a major University creating a managed operating environment to try and stop this thing - there isn't one. There is a faux-administrator access that gets around virtually any legitimate use of real administrator access so that's probably the best you can (should be able to) expect.
The amount of pain to IT support caused by incompetent administration of computers is incalculable. The number of machines they had to deal with that had been compromised by viruses, malware, bootleg software and a whole host of unpleasantness that you can probably imagine that is a consequence of attaching admin level users to minimally filtered and monitored high speed internet connections.
In order for a University to protect itself from criminal proceedings, it has to be able to control the computers attached to its' network. The "good old days" sadly are over and it is no longer acceptable for academic staff to run torrent software committing massive levels of IP violation / theft from a university owned computer.
Your fundamental problem is not that you need Admin rights. What you need is not to be delayed when installing software. So, what that means is you need a better funded IT department. That is what you should be pushing for.
The IT department should have the resources to "package" software quickly. This means preparing it for safe installation and uninstallation along with any dependencies - like Linux package management but centrally administered. Good package management allows for self service installation so that would mean you'd be piggybacking off of the efforts of the whole University - if anyone else requested a piece of software, it would then become available to everyone and if it was free you could self install with a click. If it wasn't free you could provide approval to release the funds and get it installed automatically.
On a more practical note, if you absolutely have to play with admin level privileges - do it in a virtual machine. Preferably on a cloud based server.
Commercial IT is moving heavily in this direction and if my experience is anything to go by the computer science academics are very out of date in this regard and are not preparing their students for the real world. Look at tools like "Docker", "Bitnami" and "Eclipse Che" to see various examples of the sorts of tools that are available to pretty much eliminate the need for bare metal admin access.
A few more points.
1) Academics (generally) do not appreciate how proactive you have to be to secure a network. It's poor use of their time to scour CERT looking for reasons to patch stuff so they don't - with unfortunate consequences.
2) If you have admin access, you will be able to cause much more damage. Click on an e-mail link from a non-privileged account and it's no big deal. Click on one as root and your account be sending a phishing e-mail to the entire University address book within half an hour - causing man-weeks of clean-up for the IT department.
3) There really are no real legitimate requirements for full admin access these days that I can think of:-
Compiling software -> Isolated VM
Running old software -> Virtualized bubble (research "App-V" for example)
4) The advantages of a properly managed desktop are not just one-sided. If your IT department gets it right you will be able to:-
- Log into any machine on campus and access your data (and your data will be regularly backed up and reside on a secure fail-safe infrastructure). No more USB sticks with critical and confidential data on them. No more academics in tears because the only copy of their work was kept on a single external HDD that failed.
- Have access to that data from a home computer should you need it. Possibly with some caveats (having the right anti-virus installed maybe).
- Have a LOT of available space if you need it.
- Therefore if your machine fails you will be up & running less than fifteen minutes after the delivery of the replacement (depending on how many non-standard packages you have installed). Boeing has had this for YEARS. It saves them a fortune.
- The ability to install (and uninstall) common software without involving IT.
- Access to temporary (isolated from the internet) VMs in a secure University owned cloud with admin access to do tasks that absolutely need it. You should be able to stand up a virtual PC in less than 5 minutes and then discard it when you're done.
- This technology can also be used to create virtual teaching labs with just the software you need for the class rather than expecting your IT staff to get 9+ units worth of required software to "play nice" with each other in the two weeks before the first semester starts.
- Need a long-lived VM to do significant compute over several days/weeks/months? - service request. Possible cost to you if your need is excessive but the cost will be competitive with AWS or MS Azure equivalents.
- Less stressed IT support because they're not overloaded cleaning up the fallout from the latest phishing scam so response times should be much better. In fact, you should have a published service catalogue from IT detailing what services they offer, how much they cost and how quickly you can expect a response. This is all standard stuff they should have time for if the environment becomes more controlled.
Seriously, this is a positive move. Embrace it, support it and you will be better off.