Third Level Colleges have confirmed that they are pledging to stay open during the upcoming academic year, starting in September.
Higher education institutions (HEIs), represented by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) released the joint-statement confirming the return to college campuses in September.
The safe return of students to college campuses is a ‘priority’ to Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science Simon Harris, who added that the statement was a ‘significant step forward’.
The commitment to return is based on three factors, including the fact higher education has been deemed an essential service by the government, there is an overwhelming desire from students to return to on-campus learning and research, and that the majority of adults will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated by September.
“We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to our campuses,” Chair of IUA and President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said.
“We are determined to put in place all the measures advised by public health to make the return to campus safe and sustainable for our students, our staff and for society.
“A key element of this determination is personal as well as institutional responsibility and we urge all our students to take up the offer of a vaccination in good time for September.”
In light of this ‘significant step forward’, the statement also confirmed that HEI’s will adhere to public-health guidelines and risks will be managed carefully.
They also called for personal responsibility to be taken by those on college campuses during the year.
HEI’s have also committed to cater for the needs of all students through the year while managing risk by adhering to advice given at the time.
This will be conducted by implementing hygiene measures, requiring face coverings, optimising ventilation systems, controlling exit and entry to buildings and lectures, and managing lecture times and occupancy limits.
Colleges have also insisted that they will continue to promote full engagement with the vaccination roll-out and manage any potential outbreaks of Covid-19.
The plan will also evolve during the year in light of potential public health situations at the time.