By Michelle Devane, PA
College by Zoom is coming to an end, the Minister for Higher Education has said.
Third-level students are set to return to campuses from September under a new plan approved by the Government.
Simon Harris on Tuesday unveiled details of the plan for a safe and structured return to on-site activity for all students and staff for the coming academic year.
From September small lectures, tutorials, workshops, classroom-based teaching and learning as well as laboratory teaching and learning can take place on site.
Libraries, canteens, workspaces, research, sports facilities, bars, clubs and societies’ meetings will also be able to resume.
Large lecture halls will also be allowed with modifications. Details are set to be confirmed over the summer.
Students: Minister Harris has published the third-level education reopening plan. See the details: https://t.co/uyZWMfwjvv#aSafeReturn@SimonHarrisTD @QQI_connect @SOLASFET @hea_irl @get_altText pic.twitter.com/L0N9HCFkcq
— Department of Further and Higher Education (@DeptofFHed) June 15, 2021
Mr Harris said students had shown great resilience throughout the pandemic, but they could not have another year like this one.
“The college experience will return for everyone from September,” he said.
“This year has been overwhelmingly online, the college experience will be overwhelmingly onsite from the new academic year.”
“College by Zoom is coming to an end,” he added. “We will take the lessons of the last year and build on them. It’s a very important day.”
The Wicklow TD said he was conscious students returning to campus may be not only excited but anxious as well, and it was important wrap-around supports were put in place.
The plan has been approved by public health chiefs. It will be reviewed every month.
Funding will be made available to institutions to assist them with the return of students in the midst of the pandemic.
Mr Harris said each college will now prepare their own plans on this basis and report to students and staff.
“To students, I want to say education and training is not just about what you learn,” he said.
“It’s about how you learn, the people you learn with, and the experience of being with others.
“You are going to be back on site this autumn. It will not be exactly the same as it was before, but you will be there. Your safety and your wellbeing is our priority.”