SFC news published since 2018. See SFC archived content for earlier news articles.

A new £5 million fund has been created to help colleges and universities tackle digital exclusion among disadvantaged students, the Scottish Funding Council has announced.

The cash is being made available to institutions to help bridge the “digital divide” by providing additional support for Scotland’s most disadvantaged students with the digital devices they need to access learning.

The funding is in addition to a range of recent additional support for Scotland’s colleges and universities in their fight against the effects of Covid-19, which includes £75 million to protect world-leading university research, £10 million for estates development, and early access to £11.4m of Higher Education Hardship Funds.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can to help all our learners weather the impact of the coronavirus crises.

“I know this has been a huge challenge for many – but I hope this £5m Digital Fund will go some way to easing the pressures, by helping thousands of learners to access the necessary computer resources they need to continue with their studies.”

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said that the investment would help students facing hardship with the costs of taking part in online learning:

“This digital fund will support disadvantaged learners across Scotland to study online, with computers they might otherwise have been unable to buy themselves – vital help when money is tight and access to digital learning is more important than ever.”

Tim Frew, CEO YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, said:

“All steps to mitigate the impact of coronavirus are very welcome. This fund will address the digital barriers faced by many young learners in the community and promote digital inclusion. We are delighted to be working with CLD partners, Lead Scotland and WEA in getting this resource to where the need is greatest.”

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland President said:
“Today’s announcement is very welcome. As students and apprentices return to a blended model of learning, it is more important than ever that they have access to the laptops, internet, and equipment that they will need to succeed in their studies.
“Investment in digital support is positive news for students across Scotland, particularly as we see a rise in the number of working class students gaining a place in further and higher education this year, for whom the cost of learning is often the greatest.”

Full details of today’s announcement can be found on our website.