Half a million euro fund allocated to WIT for student laptops

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Thanks to Bermix Studio for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Thanks to Bermix Studio for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Minister Harris announces 17,000 laptops ordered nationwide to assist students with online and blended learning through a fund for student devices worth €15 million

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has announced up to 17,000 laptops will be distributed to third level students to assist with online learning.

A fund for student devices worth €15 million was part of a €168 million package for further and higher education sectors to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.

This funding has already allowed higher education institutions and further education institutions place a bulk order of 16,700 devices for students across third level and further devices are also being procured individually by some institutions.

WIT has been awarded €522,000 and is developing the application process for registered students to access this fund. Students are advises to keep an eye on the WIT website for more details and the application process; this fund will open for applications in late September.

Changed college experience

Speaking on the matter, Minister Harris said: “COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of our lives. For students in third level, it has resulted in a changed college experience.

“This new academic year will mean many students will be attending courses online and will need access to devices. This investment will allow us to help 16,700 students access laptops and will ensure they can keep up to date with their studies.

“It will also go some way to bridging the digital divide, support students and ensure equality of access to education.”

The €168 million funding package includes an additional €10 million for access supports which complements the IT support package. Students in higher education institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support via their local access office. Waterford Institute of Technology will make a separate announcement on how and when students can apply for this support. This is likely to be in September.

Student access

The devices will be distributed through targeted lending schemes run by the institutions. In the higher education sector, this will be overseen by Student Access Offices.

Minister Harris added: “The focus will be on ensuring disadvantaged students will have access to the devices.

“But we must also recognise many students and their families have fallen on hard times as a result of COVID-19. We must ensure they don’t fall behind in their studies and ensure they can access this support fund also.

“We still have significant work to do to address the digital divide in Ireland but this will go some of the way to doing that.”

The grant funding for the devices will be provided to higher education institutions through the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The bulk order of laptops was organised by HEAnet, which provides internet connectivity and ICT services to education bodies throughout Ireland.

Other supports for WIT students

The Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for full-time higher education students who are experiencing financial difficulties whilst attending college. This Fund is part supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. The awarding amount ranges from €400-€1500 depending of the individual student case. This fund will open for applications in early October. For more information email [email protected] or please see link: https://www.wit.ie/current_students/student_life_and_learning/student-assistance-fund1#tab=panel-3

1916 Bursary Fund

The 1916 Bursary Fund was established by the Department of Education and Skills. The purpose of the Fund is to encourage participation and success by students who are most socio-economically disadvantaged and who are from groups most under-represented in higher education. Waterford Institute of Technology is part of the South Cluster which is comprised of 5 higher education institutions: Cork Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Carlow, Institute of Technology Tralee, University College Cork and Waterford Institute of Technology. The bursary fund is be administered through the South Cluster’s SOAR Project. The South Cluster have a total of 35 bursaries available to award to students applying to these higher education institutions. Each student who is awarded the 1916 Bursary Fund will receive a bursary to the amount of €5,000 per annum for the normal duration of a full-time undergraduate programme. For more information please see: https://www.wit.ie/current_students/student_life_and_learning/1916-bursary-application-form

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