You are correct in that VPP codes can only be recovered from a Supervised device using the provisioning computer running Apple Configurator that initially installed the app on the iPad.
Apple Configurator can only *simultaneously* sync 30 iOS devices, however it can manage hundreds or thousands of devices if you wanted it to. Some schools will have a single Mac running Apple Configurator to manage all of their iPads in the entire school.
If you have a single computer running Apple Configurator and need to recover the VPP codes at the end of each year, you could Supervise all of the iPads with that one computer at the beginning of the year and install all of the apps. Then at the end of the year, you could have the students drop off their iPads so that you could remove and recover those VPP codes back into Configurator.
When you make an app available to an iPad with Meraki (or other MDM), the end user will be prompted to enter an Apple ID and password. If you are using a VPP code for a paid app, the app ownership will go to the Apple ID that redeems it. Once that VPP code has been redeemed by an Apple ID, it cannot be recovered.
For more on app ownership and deployment models, check out the iOS 6 Education Deployment Guide:
Hope this helps!
Thanks Joe for your prompt and comprehensive response.
I hadn't realised that the limitation on the Apple Configurator was 30 simultaneous iOS devices.
Am I right in suggesting that the only way to connect them is via USB and WiFi or OTA isn't currently an option?
Can both the Apple Configurator and an MDM solution be used on one device?
If the iOS device is lost/stolen/broken beyond repair the VPP redemption codes are lost for good?
Does anyone know officially or otherwise if this is anywhere near Apple's development road map? - I realise anyone who actually knows won't be able to answer this but if I don't ask I defiantly won't get.
Sorry for so many questions but I can't quite believe that the 'Enterprise Management' features on iOS are so lacking and limiting.
Your questions address a feature that many of us want Apple to support...the ability to redistribute VPP codes, which is so important especially in schools. However, the process you are asking for is currently unsupported by Apple and most MDM providers. The only supported way Apple currently has to redistribute VPP codes is through Supervised devices in Apple Configurator.
Yes, Apple Configurator and MDM solution can be used on a single device. Most school districts use both (we do).
Yes (unfortunately) if the iOS devices is lost/stolen/broken then the VPP redemption codes are lost.
Apple is aware that all of us want this option available. I've talked to our Apple SE many times about this. Unfortunately, it is currently not a supported feature. That being said, there are some unsupported workarounds that can "technically" make this possible. I am just hoping that Apple will make it a supported feature soon.
I agree with you that the iOS enterprise management features are lacking and limiting, but its much better than it was a year or two ago. I hope that things will continue to improve (maybe with iOS 7?).
I will investigate the...
unsupported workarounds that can "technically" make this possible.
Your input has been invaluable. Roll on iOS7 (although I'm worried that the interface redesign will mean that other badly needed features will be dropped - but as every we will only see the end product not what might have been).