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The University of East London, University of Paderborn to name a few are handing out free laptops to students. Too good to be true, free laptops along with your education - Yes, Please! Some would say maybe it’s too good to be true.

E&M investigates - how good of an idea is giving students free laptops?


Free Laptops? No Thanks.

Now call me crazy, but am I the only person that sees imposing students to study on laptops as absolute folly? Whilst I understand that providing all students with laptops foresees with the inevitable necessity of having to conduct research and writing essays online - seeing as University is evermore connected. But in the midst of our technological revolution, with people wandering the streets catching pokemon and sending raunchy snapchats - I find my safe haven in writing in notebooks. At university I was always frowned upon for my disgusting, messy notes. Furiously handwriting the streams of wisdom pouring out of my professors’ mouths - I often missed something and could often barely read them because I was trying to write so fast. My hands sore from the war wounds - I still think it was all worth it.

Now don’t get me wrong - this isn’t even just a decision based on principles, I do it for one important reason - memory. Plenty of studies (Scientific AmericanPrinceton - the list goes on) have proven that handwriting your notes has a significant impact on how well you manage to memorise your notes. By pushing free laptops on students you are not only giving millennials more reasons to be glued to a computer screen - you’re also taking them further and further away from a timeless art of notetaking. Finding dusty books and compiling piles of colour coded notes was one of my fondest memories from university.

Finding dusty books and compiling piles of colour coded notes was one of my fondest memories from university.

Now, I understand my privileged situation in which I can say this because I can afford a laptop to then use in my spare time - and everyone should have this opportunity. I just think a free laptop shouldn’t be synonymous with your studies, if anything should just be able to cost less. Because also one cannot forget that a university offering free laptops is also a ploy to get more students to attend their university. And this once again perpetuates this notion that a university is no longer a pillar of education and knowledge - but a business.

What do I propose? That universities provide laptop rental services, for those students that wish to use laptops but do not use it as a ploy to rake in more students to raise their prestige and pay their fees - and to make learning synonymous with the use of technology. So I stand alone, pen in hand, and refuse your free laptops, thank you very much.


Free Laptops? Yes Please!

As someone coming from Germany I know of the privilege of not having to pay tuition fees. Higher education seems accessible for everyone, never mind their social background, and is not limited to those who can afford it - and so it should be! Nevertheless, being a student is expensive, Living costs are only one big portion, but there are also many required study materials and tools which need to be bought and a laptop is the most important one of them.
Having access to an internet device is nowadays essential for every student who wants to succeed at university, without it you probably cannot even apply for university as many applications are online. Once admitted a student needs to register for courses, sign up for a group, research papers or finish assignments online. Therefore, a laptop is the most necessary tool for a student, but an expensive one.

A laptop can cost easily up to 1000€ excluding the necessary software. So, in order to create more equal opportunities for all students, I believe that a laptop should be given for free to the students from the university. Some universities in Europe have already tried this approach. They offered their new students a free laptop which they can keep after a successful completion of their studies. For the universities, this action was mainly done to promote their university and gain more students. However, as no student can finish their studies without access to a laptop, giving them for free, would hence help decrease social injustice. A collaboration with companies would help finance this action and at the same time promote the tool of those companies.

No student can finish their studies without access to a laptop, giving them for free, would hence help decrease social injustice.

People might argue that any student can have access to computers on University premises such as the library, but as I have had to experience first hand, those are rarely enough, especially in the exam period. To get a free working space you must come very early in the morning or only have a limited amount of time. Clearly studying cannot be restricted by access to computers on university places. Studying is not a 9 to 5 activity and with a laptop students will have more control over when and where they want to study. If every student has a laptop, the university can enlarge facilities and work spaces without computers and save some money as well. Moreover, students would not need to print study materials to take it home but can easily read it online on their laptops, and thereby not only save money on printing, but also save paper for the environment.

So, I believe due to the increasing digitalisation every student requires a laptop and we should not create more injustice in higher education and give every student a free laptop. Everyone would have the same opportunity to successfully complete their studies.



Photo: John Loo (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

NEXT ISSUE 01.10.2017