You could get a trackball mouse, that works rather like a touch pad mouse, but its a ball instead. Worth thinking about
You could try re-installing the touch pad software though if you have it anyhere, as it may not be a fault with the hardware if it suddenly just starts working.
As for her. With a university course, I'd most rather get a Windows based laptop that could handle all the programs she will be using. I doubt a Mac based laptop would cut it.
However, since Mac's use Intel CPU's now, it would be possible (since standard laptops are cheaper than Mac's) to run Windows on a Mac and Mac on a standard Laptop. Anyone correct me if I'm wrong.
If so, and looks are really that important to her, Windows should be installable if she needed it, by having 2 partitions, seperating the two Operating Systems.
There is also something called Virtual PC, which she could use to run Windows on too I believe.