Students in Clydebank are to benefit from new laptops and free internet access in a bid to help close the digital divide.

West College Scotland has secured a £97,000 grant from Connecting Scotland, a government-backed initiative designed to help people from “digitally excluded households” get online.

The college is to receive 90 kits, each of which includes a Chromebook, 24 months of internet, and a MiFi mobile wireless hotspot device to connect remotely.

The packs will go to students from low income households, digitally excluded families and young care leavers across West College Scotland’s three campuses.

The internet has been central to keeping education moving throughout the pandemic, allowing pupils to learn from home when institutions were closed.

Angela Pignatelli, assistant principal, creativity and skills, said: “We’re delighted to have been successful in this third round of Connecting Scotland bids.

“This funding and digital investment is critical in bridging the digital poverty divide across the regions we serve; some of which are the most deprived areas in Scotland.

“Equipping our students with Chromebooks and Mifis will help enable them to engage with their studies and goes a long way to ensuring that no one is left behind.”

According to the college, the pandemic has led to increased financial instability for many already on lower incomes, leading to “disproportionate learning loss”.

In addition, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students – who are usually migrants, asylum seekers and refugees – face “additional barriers as they try to establish a new life in a new country”.

The college said the majority of these pupils are on low incomes or benefits and cannot afford the cost of IT resources required for their learning. Many also lack internet connectivity and confidence in the use of tech.

By providing greater digital connectivity to these learners, college bosses hope to support the new Scots Refugee Integration strategy, which sets out a vision for a “welcoming Scotland” where refugees and asylum seekers can rebuild their lives.