Local Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan, has called for the provision of IT funding for agriculture students.
A farmer by trade, Cllr. Dolan stated that, at present, Teagasc agriculture students are not entitled to avail of the third level education laptop fund.
“The Department of Further and Higher Education established a fund for student devices worth €15 million as part of a €168 million package to deal with the impacts of Covid-19 over the summer.
“However, because Teagasc’s third level funding comes from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as opposed to the Department of Further and Higher Education, its students are not entitled to these laptop or other device supports.
“It is imperative that these agriculture, horticulture, equine and forestry students are not disadvantaged or prohibited from online learning due to their higher education facility’s unique funding arrangement.
“These students are absolutely no different to any other student in the State and are absolutely entitled to the same supports to facilitate their online learning during this challenging time for us all.
“Given that we are now in Level 5 restrictions, this issue must be resolved immediately and I have raised this issue with the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Higher Education and asked them to prioritise this issue as a matter of urgency.
“These students’ learning must not be compromised and funding for ICT equipment must be made available as soon as possible,” Cllr. Dolan asserted.