Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 1 May 2020.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that university students who do not have access to (a) the internet and (b) a computer at home are able to complete their studies.

Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Labour, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support universities to prevent digital poverty amongst students during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

As my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Higher education (HE) providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, HE providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes. Where students do not have access to the Internet, a computer at home, or cannot afford to purchase it, the expectation is that HE providers will provide support through their own hardship funds

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April and May, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans

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