Digital Poverty: Another Barrier to equal education opportunities
As the world goes increasingly online, digital poverty is becoming an even greater barrier to education. Digital poverty is linked to household poverty, as people with lower incomes are less likely to have internet access and cannot afford equipment like laptops.
The costs of home learning combined with a lack of paid work opportunities, means many Kingston students will simply not be able to afford to learn at home.
A hidden problem exposed by Covid-19
Digital poverty affects 12% of UK children and young adults. A survey of current Kingston students revealed a digital poverty rate of 23%. Covid-19 has made technology an educational necessity, not a luxury.
At Kingston alone, over 4,000 students have started this academic year without access to a laptop or a good internet connection. When they do get connected, hidden costs such as virus protection and the software required to complete their studies, means their learning is prohibitively expensive.
Covid-19 restrictions mean that a significant proportion of teaching and student support will be delivered online in the coming academic year. Nearly a quarter of Kingston students will not be able to access the following:
- Online live teaching and tutor groups
- Online resources for learning and research
- Student services like mentoring, counselling and employability advice
- The ability to write and submit work online
Together with your help, our Access, Participation and Inclusion team has delivered successful programmes to reach students from disadvantaged backgrounds and to make sure they succeed here. We cannot undo this hard work because students are isolated through a lack of IT equipment and a good connection to the internet.
Can you imagine working from home on your phone?
Students like Bharath were relying on connecting to their lectures on a limited 4G smart phone. Students are not able to access library resources, join lectures or complete and submit their assessments on 4G contracts.
I have funded my studies through working in a restaurant. I was fortunate enough to be furloughed, but without the rest of my salary and the extra shifts, I had no money after rent and bills. On top of that with classes now on-line I had a big WiFi and electricity bill - and I suddenly needed to get a laptop.
Bharath, MA International Business Management
The Digital Poverty fund
We are calling on you to help us to offer long-term laptop loans and connectivity packages to support remote learning. Support will be directed to those most in need and all eligible students must have a household income of under £25,000. Additional criteria prioritises students who face extra disadvantage during Covid-19, including estranged students, care leavers, commuter students, disabled students, BAME students, and students with caring responsibilities.
Your help will mean more Kingston students will receive this support to learn.
Help us succeed!
We appreciate that you may not be in a position to help at this time. Whether or not you can give, please share this post with friends and others that may choose to support Kingston students.