Education & Family

University gives free tablet computer to new students

Students get free computers Image copyright Other
Image caption Students are being given the tablet computers when they register

A university is giving a free tablet computer to all its first-year students starting courses this term.

The University of East London is giving 4,000 students computers pre-loaded with digital textbooks.

Equipping all its new intake with the technology will cost the university about £2m.

John Joughin, the university's vice-chancellor, said it would help to provide a "level playing field for all of our students".

Students will be able to keep the tablet devices when they leave.

'Best fit'

The computer, a Samsung Note 8, comes loaded with information about starting university and online library resources. There will be "core e-textbooks" included, with the aim of reducing the initial cost of buying books.

"We are delighted to be putting support directly in the hands of our students and providing them with a state-of-the-art learning platform for the duration of their studies," said Prof Joughin.

The computer handout for first-years is a collaboration with the JS Group, which will manage the project.

The group's chairman Peter Gray said: "Students starting university are now 'digital natives'. Having their course books in e-book format is the best fit for how they study."

The tablets will be given to all students, including from other countries, and among the first recipients were a psychology student from Norway and an anthropology student from Italy.

Universities are now in competition for students and their tuition fees and are increasingly aware of needing to attract applications.

Starting university has also become associated with students getting computer equipment.

The PC World and Currys group reported sales of laptops rising by 50% after A-level results had been published.

Retailer John Lewis has said laptop sales soar in the run-up to the new university year, with Christmas the only higher peak in demand.

Annual tracking surveys have shown high levels of technology ownership among students in the UK, with 90% owning both a laptop and a smartphone. A further 40% have a tablet computer.

There are also questions about brands. A survey of this year's intake at Harvard University in the US showed that 71% of new students owned a Mac computer.

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