Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 6th May 2020.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the provision of laptops to vulnerable and disadvantaged young people during the covid-19 outbreak to university students.

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, 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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