Can you not just use all the advice web sites on buying a laptop? What suits one person would be useless for another one. My DD had a MacBook Pro for her arts course, but that would be way over the top for a non creative course. Cheap it is not. Size of screen, weight, spec and suitability for the course are all important.
Agree with Bojo. Will they need to take it to lectures? Weight is then a factor. Will they need special software? I tend to go to techradar for research on tech purchases. You can find what you need and what you can get for all budgets. My two don't need anything fancy and both have HP laptops which were around the £300- £350 mark.