Universities and other higher education organizations are facing an increasing demand to provide course resources and access to the network through a wide range of devices.

When it comes to solutions for providing students with continuity of education whether they’re on or off-campus, there is a number to choose from. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), COPE (Company Owned/Personally Enabled), and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) are all solutions available to both universities and in the workplace and allow students to access the materials they need anytime, anywhere through their own device.

However, each solution comes with its own benefits and drawbacks which are important to understand before implementation.

What is CYOD?

CYOD is a solution that allows universities to provide students with a set of devices to choose from but will also allow them to use their own devices, such as their mobile phones, to access university networks.

Devices can be owned by the university or the student but, if the device is owned by the university, it must be returned once the student leaves or graduates.

Man using BYOD and CYOD devices


CYOD is seen by many organizations as a middle ground between BYOD and COPE.

Similar to BYOD, the CYOD model provides students with the freedom to use their own devices but gives them the option of using university-owned devices too. On university-owned devices, organizations can install and maintain security software and ensure device compatibility with the university’s IT infrastructure.

One of the key disadvantages of CYOD is that, if a personal device owned by a student is not compatible with the devices provided by the university, a student may be forced to choose from a selection of devices that are not satisfied with.

Why would a university choose to implement CYOD?

Universities may choose to implement the CYOD model as it can reduce the large upfront costs of device management that are associated with solutions such as COPE.

The CYOD model allows students to remain in control of the technology they choose to use through their own device, but it is easier for the university to provide the support and security measures needed to help students.

Many universities implement CYOD as they transition from a COPE strategy towards an end goal of a BYOD policy.

Key benefits of CYOD

Socio-economic responsibility

Universities may choose to implement CYOD to provide students who do not necessarily have access to their own technology (including mobile devices) or the most up-to-date devices. CYOD provides these students with access to the devices they need to complete their studies without requiring financial support from the university.


As some students may opt to use their own devices, there are significantly reduced hardware and device management costs in comparison to COPE for universities.


With CYOD, students are still provided with a choice of personal devices, despite that choice being limited to devices chosen by the university. This means that with CYOD students still have the option to choose the device that works more productively for them whether it’s university-owned or their own device.


CYOD makes it easier for universities to maintain device compatibility whilst ensuring equality between students is maintained.


With CYOD it’s easier for device management teams to maintain device security as they have a greater understanding and control over the devices being used by students.

What is COPE?

Larger higher education organizations may choose COPE vs BYOD as a solution because it provides the most control over mobility.

Universities provide or give access to the personal devices a student needs to complete their course. This method allows universities to retain control and authority over all devices used by students.

How does COPE compare to BYOD?

COPE sits at the opposite end of the spectrum to BYOD.

BYOD provides students with the most freedom when deciding which personal devices they wish to use. On the other hand, COPE limits this freedom significantly. With less choice, students who have access to COPE vs BYOD may be less productive compared to those who are able to use their own devices. COPE vs BYOD means that students may be forced to use devices and technologies that they are not comfortable with and do not like.

Unlike BYOD, COPE requires universities to stay proactive and keep up to date with the latest technology, to ensure students are not using outdated or inefficient technology.

How does COPE compare to CYOD?

CYOD provides a middle ground between COPE and BYOD. When comparing the two solutions, some of the same benefits of CYOD are still provided by COPE. For example, COPE still eliminates concerns of socio-economic responsibility and makes providing device security and management easier and more efficient for universities.

Compared to CYOD, COPE loses some benefits, including the freedom to choose a device for students and management easier and more efficient for universities.

Why would a university choose to implement COPE?

Universities may wish to implement COPE rather than CYOD as it provides the organization with more control and authority over the mobile devices that are connected to the network. For example, a university can eliminate concerns relating to data security, as software repairs and upgrades will be standardized and easier to execute, protecting sensitive data.

Universities may also implement COPE instead of CYOD as a solution because it creates a clear distinction between a personal device and educational device, helping to increase the productivity of students and providing them with a healthier work/study balance.

The benefits of COPE

University ownership

Although students will have access to a device they can take away from campus with them, the organization retains ownership of the device, meaning it will still be considered an asset of the university.

This also means that whilst purchasing the devices may be a large initial upfront cost, the company can re-use devices as students graduate and leave the organization.


When adding enterprise mobility solutions to the infrastructure of a university, a COPE vs BYOD model ensures control is maintained at all times and device security and data security is not compromised by the addition of multiple new mobile devices.


By providing students with university-owned devices, organizations are able to pre-configure devices to ensure security is prioritized at all times. By providing universities with the ability to lock devices and properly secure them before handing them out to students, COPE is the best model for maintaining a high level of security.

Similarities to BYOD

COPE provides many of the same benefits as BYOD but provides students with the added benefit of being able to protect their sensitive and personal data more securely. You can read more about the benefits of BYOD in our guide here.

If a university provides students with a choice of devices and allows them to download the apps and software they need to the device, students receive the same freedom they would with BYOD, other than being able to choose the initial device itself.

IT department approval

IT departments are able to approve the devices available to students, ensuring they have access to the latest and best technology required to complete their course and access university devices.

Lower maintenance costs

Although COPE requires an initial upfront cost from the university, it’s more cost-effective as the organization will not need to arrange security measures for individual devices they may be unfamiliar with. It also means that IT departments know exactly how many devices are accessing the network so can ensure it supports everyone who accesses it.

The final verdict

When it comes to comparing BYOD, COPE, and CYOD, there is no clear winner.

The superior model depends on the unique requirements and needs of a university. Ultimately, universities must enhance the student experience by making all academic resources available to students both on and off-campus, which is usually most effectively achieved by allowing students to access the software and apps they need on any device, anywhere.

Find out more about BYOD its benefits and applications here >

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