First year and returning Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) students will be able to apply for the laptop loan scheme from September 30 via the WIT website.
In August, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris announced up to 17,000 laptops will be distributed to third0level students to assist with online learning.
WIT received €522,000 of the €15 million fund, which was described by Minister Harris as going some way to “bridging the digital divide, support students and ensure equality of access to education.”
The institute will have a limited number of laptop units available to loan to eligible students, whether they are on campus or studying from home.
WIT will have blended delivery for courses for the 2020/2021 academic year, which means that there will be a mix of online and on-campus learning. The mix is dependent on the programme of study, but as a guideline activities like labs and studios will be on campus, and lectures and tutorials will be delivered online.
Robin Croke from WIT’s Access Office in the Student Life and Learning Department, which is administering the scheme, says that the interest in the scheme is huge.
“This scheme to support disadvantaged students in the higher education sector is very welcome, and there has been huge interest from students. We are expecting far more applications than there are devices, and advise students they will need to present appropriate and supporting documentation when applying to the laptop scheme. These documents may include proof of the student’s/parent’s income, as appropriate, and receipts for costs such as rent, bills or childcare and other forms of supporting documentation/ proof of circumstances," Ms Croke says.
The devices will remain the property of WIT and will be distributed to eligible students by means of an appropriate lending/rental scheme.
Full-time and part-time students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) who may fall under the following criteria are eligible to apply to receive a device under this scheme:
- Students disadvantaged by socio-economic barriers
- First-time mature students
- Students with disabilities
- Part-time/flexible learning students
- Students who hold further education qualifications
- Students who are lone parents
- Students who are members of the Traveller and Roma communities
- Members of ethnic minorities groups
- International, non-EU fee-paying students would not be considered eligible for support under this grant.
A loan agreement including the terms and conditions will apply. Devices can be retrieved from students if they pause or discontinue their studies.