French students are offered laptop computers for just one euro a day

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The Independent Online

The more than two million university students in France can now buy a top-of-the-range laptop at a cost of just €1 (70p) a day.

The more than two million university students in France can now buy a top-of-the-range laptop at a cost of just €1 (70p) a day.

The scheme, promoted by the education ministry with the help of banks and computer manufacturers, is intended to increase the number of students with computers so university inscriptions and some studies can be transferred to the internet.

Only 160,000 of the 2.2 million students in France have their own computers. The Education Minister, François Fillon, hopes to at least double this number by June next year.

Students have a choice of 30 models, offered at cut-price by manufacturers, ranging from a basic €929 laptop by FGI to an IBM Think-pad Optimum at €1,990. Students can buy them outright or apply for a loan - guaranteed by a parent or friend - which they would repay at €30 a month.

More than 5,000 laptops had already been ordered by students before the scheme began officially this week.

But the student unions were divided about the value of the offer.

Yassir Fichtali, of the largest and left-leaning union, the Unef, said: "We have trouble in seeing how this is going to help the 100,000 students who live below the poverty line."

Other student leaders welcomed the scheme but urged the government to make the system of loan guarantees simpler for poorer students.

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