Digital Capability Scheme

The Digital Capability Scheme (DCS) provides grants to help students who have no access to IT equipment.

Being a student means being able to engage with digital resources, online materials, lectures and learning opportunities. UWE Bristol expects you to be suitably equipped before starting your course.

UWE Bristol has established the Digital Capability Scheme (DCS) to provide grants to help students who have no access to IT equipment and are unable to purchase the required equipment due to financial hardship.

This scheme is part funded by the Department for Education.


The scheme is open to new and returning students registered on courses in the 20/21 academic year.

Funding is available to students in the following groups:

  • UK Home and EU
  • New and returning
  • Full time and part time
  • Undergraduate, postgraduate taught, postgraduate research
  • Registered on a UWE Bristol course, delivered by UWE Bristol.

To be eligible, students meeting the above criteria must either be:


  • in receipt of the full SLC funding to which you are entitled (both tuition and maintenance)
  • or if you are not entitled to SLC funding, paying your own fees and ‘self-funded’.

Please note: if you are eligible for SLC funding but have chosen not to access that support you will be ineligible for an award from the DCS. 


  • in receipt of the full PGL funding to which you are entitled
  • or if you are not eligible for the PGL or have chosen not to access that funding, paying your own fees and ‘self-funded’.

Please note: In all cases, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the minimum reasonable provision for both tuition fees and living costs. 

If you applied for the September scheme but were not assessed you will need to complete the new application form to be considered for this scheme.

Students ineligible for the scheme

If you are in one of the following groups you will not be able to receive funding from the scheme:

  • International students
  • Students on continuing professional development (CPD) and short courses
  • Courses delivered entirely online as standard
  • Degree apprentices
  • Bristol international college (BIC) students
  • Incoming Erasmus students
  • Outgoing Erasmus students
  • Students on distance learning courses
  • Students on paid placement
  • Students on study year abroad years
  • Students at a UK or international partner institution
  • Students funded through individual commercial sponsorship arrangements (For example, where the employer pays fees on the student's behalf)
  • Masters students, if your dissertation is due to be submitted for consideration within four months of your course start date.

How the DCS works

All courses have been assigned a cost band that relate to how IT intensive the demands of the course are. Take a look at the list.

Each cost band has a maximum award, this relates to the cost of equipment that meets the appropriate specification for the courses assigned to that band.

You are free to purchase laptops of a higher value but you will need to meet the difference in price from your own funds.

When you apply

The scheme will open for applications in January 2021.

Find your course on the list so you know what band to apply for and make the appropriate selection on the application form.

If you cannot find your course or you are unsure you can leave this blank, the Student Money Service (SMS) will complete it for you.

What we can fund

What the scheme covers depends on the band your course is in:

  • Band 1 course - laptops up to £400
  • Band 2 course - laptops up to £600
  • Band 3 course - laptops up to £800
  • MiFi Mobile Broadband Device or equivalent is included in the award.

The specification

ITS have developed specifications that are suitable for the courses and funding

  • Band 1 – i3 or Ryzen 3 processor, 8GB memory, 128GB solid state storage (or equivalent)
  • Band 2 – i5 or Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB memory, 256GB solid state storage (or equivalent)
  • Band 3 – i7 or Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB memory, 512GB solid state storage (or equivalent)

Find out more information.

What we can’t fund

The scheme does not provide support for 'off list' items and the following specific exclusions:

  • High-spec machines
  • General tablets (running mobile operating systems)
  • Smartphones
  • The installation and operation of fixed broadband or other internet services
  • Data plan costs beyond that covered in the purchase of a MiFi Mobile Broadband Device or equivalent
  • Software in addition to that included on the machine
  • Software licensing and subscriptions
  • Printer consumables
  • Device specific or general insurance or extended warranties
  • Additional funding for PCs costing more than the course band is not available and would need to be covered from your own funds

If you received an award from the 20/21 Digital Capability Scheme (September) you are not eligible for further funds from this scheme:
If you received an award from the 19/20 Emergency fund you may be eligible for a top up award:

  • Band 1 course - You are not eligible for further funding from this scheme
  • Band 2 course - a top up award of £300
  • Band 3 course - a top up award of £500

How to apply

To access this fund, you will need to complete the application form and return it to the Student Money Service via email

The application form must be completed in full. Incomplete forms will not be processed and will be returned to the applicant.

If you have any questions about the specific requirements for your course in the first instance please contact:

  • Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education (ACE) – programme leader
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) – programme leader
  • Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) – programme leader
  • Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences (HAS) – Academic Personal Tutor

If you have a specific query please contact the Student Money Service at

We aim to process correctly completed and evidenced applications within 25 working days (five weeks) of receipt.

We will process your application and notify you of your entitlement as soon as possible after receipt. You will receive payment once we have verified your registration. For new students starting for the first time in January/February 2021. this may mean you do not receive payment until late January/early February.

If you are a new student due to start at UWE Bristol for the first time in 20/21 you should use your welcome ID on the application form.

Applications will be processed in the date and time order they are received, and will be paid after that point once you meet the registration requirements.

Things you need to know

This scheme is open for applications for the 20/21 academic year (or until funds run out). 

Applications made under the September DCS after the scheme closed in October will re processed under the terms of this scheme. This may mean some applications that were eligible under the earlier schemes are no longer eligible. Applications cannot be considered retrospectively and existing decision including awards already paid will not be changed.

If you make an application you are declaring that you do not have the financial means to provide your own equipment.

If your academic year started between 01 August 2020 and 30 November 2020, your application must be received prior to 11:00 on Sunday 28 February 2021.

If your academic year starts between 01 January 2021 and 28 February 2021 your application must be received prior to 11:00 Wednesday 31 March 2021. 

Students with a tuition fee debt to the University are ineligible to receive an award.

Students with a payment plan will be means assessed.

DCS awards (all schemes) will be considered in any future Student Support Fund applications. Details of the fund will be published on the UWE Bristol Support Fund page before the start of term.

It is your responsibility to ensure you acquire the appropriate equipment with the funds provided.

You should ensure you retain documentation regarding warranty for repair in case of damage.

You should ensure you have suitable insurance cover for your laptop and other IT equipment, the scheme is unable to fund repairs or replacements.

For full details, read the Digital Capability Scheme.