17,000 laptops have been made available to assist students with online learning. Back in August, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, announced a fund of €15 million for student learning devices, in order to “…support students and ensure equality of access to education.”
UCD received the second-highest proportion of the grant money, €777,017, whilst €1,290,463 went to TU Dublin. Harris emphasised that the scheme was intended for those experiencing financial difficulties: “The focus will be on ensuring disadvantaged students will have access to the devices.”
The criteria for receiving a laptop loan are as follows: You must be registered as a full or part-time student in 2020-21. You must also be from a low-income household, defined by UCD Access and Lifelong Learning as an annual income below €49,840. The criteria also stipulates that Non-EU fee-paying students, Erasmus and Study Abroad students are not eligible to apply.
We reached out to the Department of Further and Higher Education to see if there would be cleaning guidelines to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission between devices. A spokesperson for the Department stated that the management of the schemes, including ensuring that their distribution is organised in compliance with public health advice, is a matter for individual institutions. UCD have not released a laptop cleaning policy for this particular scheme, however the library laptop scheme requires individual students to clean laptops after use. We would therefore expect the same to apply here.
As of now, the scheme will only be available for the coming trimester. The application deadline for continuing students is Friday, 25th September at 5pm, and Friday, 2nd October at 5pm for new entrants. The application form can be found here.
Rosie Roberts-Kuntz – Assistant News Editor