Middlesbrough College in the UK will lend Microsoft Surface devices to every new full-time student as part of a new initiative to address digital poverty on its courses.
From the start of the new term in September 2022, the college will offer devices to approximately 4,500 students, which they will use on campus and at home while they gain their qualifications. When the students graduate, the college will let them purchase their device for a minimal fee, allowing them to continue to use it to apply for jobs and start their careers.
“The Covid-19 pandemic forced our students to learn remotely,” said Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College. “However, some simply didn’t have the technology to do that. While we distributed 700 laptops to students’ homes to ensure they could keep learning, we knew that wasn’t a long-term solution. We have to level the playing field to ensure every young person has an equal opportunity at our college.”
The move is part of a wider five-year strategy that will see the college enable students to learn how and where they want. It will do this by educating them in online safety, improving business productivity through using Microsoft 365 and enhancing learning, helping students to become “true digital citizens”.
Middlesbrough College is also working with local broadband providers to ensure that students without at-home wi-fi can access a broadband connection for free.