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€38m fund will give struggling students free laptops


Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Around 11,000 free laptops will be distributed to disadvantaged students as part of a €38m investment in higher education.

A demand-led fund of more than €5m will be aimed primarily first years, helping to provide students who have difficulty in getting a suitable device for their studies to find the right computer.

They will be given to students through targeted lending schemes run by colleges.

Last year, around 8,000 laptops were distributed.

“I announced funding last year for the procurement of laptops to lend to students who did not have the resources to acquire a device themselves,” said Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.

“Today, students across the country will begin to return to colleges for the first time in 19 months. It is an incredibly exciting – but I am sure nervous – time for many.

“I am pleased that this initiative will continue into the coming academic year, and higher education institutions will be able to use the devolved capital grant to procure additional laptops where they are required,” he said.

The €38m investment will also see fund completion of “minor works and equipment needs” to allow campuses to reopen and for general IT upgrades in colleges across the country.

This will include “health and safety works” and “other building upgrades”, according to the Department of Further Education.

The fund will also enable renovations aimed at decarbonisation and improving energy efficiency on campuses.

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Students at the University of Limerick, National University of Ireland Galway, Athlone Institute of Technology and Mary Immaculate College in Tipperary will return to
campuses today.

Mr Harris said the funding would also help with the return to campus-based learning.

“The grant funding will also help facilitate the safe and very welcome return of students to campus-based learning, and will allow higher education institutions to carry out necessary minor works and equipment upgrades across their estates over the coming year,” he added.

Funding will be provided through the Higher Education Authority and is part of investment in further education under Project Ireland 2040.

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