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Govt must work with Universities to ensure students have access to equipment and internet

Govt must work with Universities to ensure students have access to equipment and internet 

Responding to a study by the Office for Students (OfS) which warns the ability of students to participate in higher education from home is being disrupted by a lack of access to core digital infrastructure, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“This pandemic has thrown the effects of digital poverty into sharp relief with the learning gap between rich and poor pupils growing at an alarming rate. 

“As many students are going to continue needing to work from home, this issue isn’t going away. 

“It is absolutely essential that access to Higher Education for pupils from low-income backgrounds is not jeopardised. Government must work with Universities to ensure students have access to the equipment and the internet they need to learn remotely. 

“The Government should set out a clear plan of action to tackle this ahead of a possible second wave this Autumn.”

Office for Students (OfS) says the ability of students to participate in higher education from home is being disrupted by a lack of access to core digital infrastructure. A poll for OfS shows that during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, 52% of students said their learning was impacted by slow or unreliable internet connection, with 8% ‘severely’ affected. 71% reported lack of access to a quiet study space, 56% said they lacked access to appropriate online course materials, and 18% were impacted by lack of access to a computer, laptop or tablet. Findings come as OfS chair, Sir Michael Barber launches a major review of digital teaching and learning in English higher education. Examining the relationship between digital poverty and students’ academic experience is one area of the review.

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