Cambridge to offer grants to help freshers buy necessary tech for partly online term

Undergraduates could be eligible for £1000 under the new ‘Digital Gateway Grants’ scheme

Cambridge University has announced a scheme to help new undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds buy the necessary technological equipment for the upcoming term. The ‘Digital Gateway Grants’ scheme is intended to ensure that all students will be able to cope with the new technological demands of Michaelmas term, which the University has already announced will be made up of a blend of online and in-person teaching.

The grants are intended to be used for the purchase of laptops, noise-reduction headphones and webcams.

Up to 250 undergraduates will be eligible for the grants, the money for which is being provided through philanthropic funding. Among those eligible will be students who qualified for Free School Meals, those who have been in care, as well as mature students from “comparable low-income backgrounds”, according to the University’s press release.

The University points to the technological demands of lectures being conducted online next term, and the need for all students to have reliable internet access in order to watch these lectures, as well as making use of further online educational material.

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor Graham Virgo has said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it particular challenges for the higher education sector. With a good deal of educational support materials going online students are having to depend more on technology to provide them with access to those materials.

“These grants are about seeking to ensure no one will be left behind.”

A total of £250,000 is being set aside for the grants, which are expected to be awarded by the end of September in time for the start of next term. It is the responsibility of Colleges to assess students’ eligibility. The money from any grants which are left unclaimed will be distributed by an inter-collegiate panel to new students identified by their colleges as being in exceptional need, as additional support to the Cambridge Bursary Scheme.