A £5 million fund has been created to help colleges and universities tackle digital exclusion among disadvantaged students.
The Scottish Funding Council announced on Friday the money will be made available to help bridge the digital divide by providing the most disadvantaged students with devices.
The funding is part of a range of support being offered to universities and colleges to fight against the effects of Covid-19.
Other funding includes £75 million to protect university research, £10 million for estates development and early access to £11.4 million of higher education hardship funds.
Richard Lochhead, minister for further education, higher education and science, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can to help all our learners weather the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
“I know this has been a huge challenge for many – but I hope this £5 million digital fund will go some way to easing the pressures, by helping thousands of learners to access the necessary computer resources they need to continue with their studies.”
Karen Watt, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said the money would help students facing hardship with the costs of taking part in online learning.
She added: “This digital fund will support disadvantaged learners across Scotland to study online, with computers they might otherwise have been unable to buy themselves – vital help when money is tight and access to digital learning is more important than ever.”
Tim Frew, chief executive officer YouthLink Scotland, hoped the fund would address the digital barriers faced by many and promote digital inclusion.
Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland president, said: “Today’s announcement is very welcome. As students and apprentices return to a blended model of learning, it is more important than ever that they have access to the laptops, internet and equipment that they will need to succeed in their studies.
“Investment in digital support is positive news for students across Scotland, particularly as we see a rise in the number of working-class students gaining a place in further and higher education this year, for whom the cost of learning is often the greatest.”