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Access to Digital Learning Fund

The Birkbeck Access to Digital Learning Fund is available to support undergraduate, postgraduate and research Home students who are unable to pay for the cost of essential IT resources such as a laptop and other key items, to ensure that they can successfully engage with online study.

While we aim to help as many students as possible through this fund, it is limited and will close once funds have been exhausted. We would therefore encourage students to apply as early as possible.

Fund details

The following information outlines the details of the Birkbeck Access to Digital Learning Fund, including eligibility, value of the fund, what you can put the money towards, and how to apply.

Eligibility criteria

  • In order to be eligible to apply, you must have Home fee status, be fully enrolled on any course, studying a minimum of 30 credits for the 2023-24 academic year, or enrolled on a  research programme. You must also have a household income of £25,000 or less as defined in the criteria below. You must also meet one of the categories defined below:
    • Category A: In receipt of government funded means-tested benefits or living with parents in receipt of these benefits.
    • Category B: A student with a mental health condition, disability or other long-term health condition who is not eligible for DSA support from the Student Loans Company.
    • Category C: Enrolled on an undergraduate course and hold non-traditional entry route qualifications such as a BTEC or Access qualification.
    • Category D: Hold refugee or humanitarian protection status.
    • Category E: A single parent in receipt of child benefit.
    • Category F: A care leaver.
    • Category G: In receipt of carer's allowance.
    • Category H: An approved Compass Project student.
    • Category I: Assessed as an EU student by Student Finance England (SFE) and not eligible for a maintenance loan (your SFE Student Support Number must start with EURS and you must have received an email from Birkbeck advising you that you can apply under this category).
    • Category J: Any student from Ukraine or Afghanistan who has travelled to the UK on one of the following schemes: The Ukraine Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Scheme, Ukraine Extension Scheme, the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), the Afghanistan Locally Employed Staff Ex-Gratia Redundancy and Resettlement Scheme and the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
  • If you do not meet these criteria but still feel unable to afford essential IT equipment, we would encourage you to contact Student Advice about other financial support you may be eligible to apply for.

household income

  • Household income is your gross income from the tax year before the start of the academic year (e.g. 2022-23 tax year for the 2023-24 academic year) and the gross income of your spouse/partner (if relevant). Parental income is not considered for any students.
  • The income limit is raised by £2000 if assessed on a joint income, £2000 for the first dependent child, and a further £1000 for each child thereafter. (A dependent child is any child under 18, for whom you or your partner has parental responsibility that is wholly or mainly financially dependent.)

Value of award

  • Awards of up to £500 per student are available. As our funds are limited, we ask you to please only request the amount you require to cover your essential costs. This will enable us to help as many students as possible before the funds are exhausted. 
  • On your application we will ask you to specify your requirements, and how you intend to use the funds, so you may wish to research possible options before applying.
  • You can claim up to £90 in total from the fund for accessories, but please note that individual accessories costing more than £30 will not be funded.

Eligible items

  • Students can apply for support towards the cost of the following items through the fund:
    • a laptop or desktop computer (you cannot reapply for this if you have already been given funds for this during your studies at Birkbeck)
    • a home broadband connection. The award will cover broadband service costs only (no extras such as other services or equipment) for the current academic year of September 2022 to June 2023 (ten months).
    • other essential equipment including a mouse, keyboard, laptop stand, basic headphones with microphone or headset to a total of £90. Individual accessories costing more than £30 will not be funded. Any purchases exceeding these limits will be covered by the student, and any award funds used for purchases going over these limits must be returned to the College.

How to apply

  • When enrolling on your course, you should select 'yes' when asked if you want to be considered for means-tested assistance and answer the relevant questions. If you have already enrolled and did not select this option, please contact Student Advice for advice on how to proceed. 
  • Emails will be sent out to all students who have opted to be means-tested on enrolment. This email will contain a link to the online application, which will guide you through the eligibility criteria, and determine your eligibility for the fund. If you are eligible to apply, you will then be required to provide relevant evidence. 
  • You can also apply using the online application form and completing all sections. 
  • Once your evidence has been assessed and if it is approved, you will be asked to register your bank details for payment via your My Birkbeck profile. Payment will be made via BACS transfer.
  • You will then have 28 days to purchase your IT equipment, and provide us with the relevant receipts.