Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Carlow College is not on a designated list of third level instituties to receive the ‘Student Assistance Fund’ and as a result has been omitted from the student laptop scheme

CARLOW College students are unable to avail of a recent government scheme which aims to provide laptops to third-level students.

With a mixture of in-class and online learning set to be a key part of the upcoming academic year, the decision has perplexed many at the college.

The scheme saw neighbouring IT Carlow receive a grant of €520,000.

A recent letter to public representatives from a Carlow College student highlight that many of the student population are on low incomes and in receipt of SUSI grants. An extract from the letter stated: ‘With the push for students to learn from home and engage in online lectures for the near future due to Covid-19, is it not counterproductive for the college to be excluded from this scheme?’

It is understood that the college is not on a designated list of facilities that receive the ‘Student Assistance Fund’ and as a result has been omitted.

Carlow College vice-president Helen Maher said the college was disappointed with the omission and was seeking a meeting with the Department of Education.

“It is my understanding that the recently announced one-off Covid-19 government funding scheme, administered by the Higher Education Authority and Solas, is specific to higher education institutions which qualify for the annual Student Assistance Fund such as universities and institutes of technology, as well as further education training boards.

“It was disappointing for our staff and students to discover that Carlow College, the second-oldest higher education institution in Ireland with a concentrated expertise in the delivery of programmes in the arts, humanities and social sciences, is not included in the schedule of higher and further education providers listed in the scheme,” said Ms Maher. “However, we work consistently with all of the relevant authorities in the higher education sector and we are awaiting a meeting at departmental level,” she added.

Ms Maher said the college was pursing “a range of student-centred options from within the college to ensure that students benefit from access to technological supports”.

The department of education declined to comment.

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