Students studying at the new School of Veterinary Medicine and Science will now be issued with a free laptop for the duration of their course. The laptops are part of a generous ‘Foundation Scholar Award’ which also includes books, clothing and other equipment. The new hall of residence, which has been built next to the veterinary school at the Sutton Bonington Campus, also provides free internet access in every room as well as ‘free and unrestricted’ car parking for students, according to the faculty’s website. However, not all are happy with the presumed ‘freebies’ that the vet school is offering. One student that Impact spoke to said, “I believe that this is a very unfair way to spend our tuition fees, as I did not pay them so that someone could be given a free laptop simply because they want to be a vet, and I’m sure that other students would agree with me.”
However, the University has denied that any free items given to vet students will be paid for by students from other degree programmes. A spokesperson for the University said, “First-year entrants to the vet school will not be given a laptop – the computers are leased, to be returned at the end of the course.” They went on to explain how the funding for the foundation award has been secured: “The vet school has been very successful in gaining external sponsorship from a range of companies to establish a foundation award for each of the new students, and as a result some textbooks and other equipment required on the course will be provided free to first years by commercial sponsors.”
The Students Union has also expressed concern at the programme, citing more practical issues, such as who is in charge of insuring the laptops, as a worry. Education Officer Benedict Pringle was also concerned about the longer-term status of this award: “We [the Students Union] are worried whether this package will be offered to just the current first years or whether it will be extended to the next intake and so on.” It does seem that with the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science so determined to go down the route of ‘eLearning’, they will have to ensure that access to laptops for its students is provided equally to all future, as well as current students.