The IUA has warmly welcomed the publication of the Plan for a safe return for further and higher education and research in 2021/22 by Minister Simon Harris. Staff and students in our universities eagerly anticipate a safe return to as comprehensive a range of on-campus activities as possible for the next academic year, including large scale teaching.
Universities can now plan with confidence for this comprehensive return to campus for the next academic year while obviously maintaining the need for contingency planning in case of an unexpected reversal of current improvements in the public health situation. The inclusion within the Plan of a phased return to normal activity on campus over the summer months is especially welcome: this will allow research, both by staff and students and other normal on-campus summer academic activity to resume fully, and to ensure preparations are fully in place for the next academic year.
Chair of the IUA and President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said, “the health and safety of our university communities has always been paramount in all our planning for education throughout the pandemic and universities are working closely with Government to ensure that focus is maintained.”
“By learning from the experiences of our students, our staff and our stakeholders, by listening to their voices and by adhering to the advice of our public health experts, our aim is for a return to a safe on-campus education which is as normal and fulfilling as possible in the context of Covid-19.”
Universities are now developing their own detailed plans for a safe and comprehensive return to campus in the autumn in consultation with staff and students. The IUA looks forward to engaging with Minister Harris and his Department to finalise details of a funding package to support the safe reopening of campus, including confirmation of the funding required to provide additional places for the significant increases in student numbers expected for this September.