Sean Defoe
Sean Defoe

06.51 15 Jun 2021


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A full return to college campuses is on course for the autumn.

The Minister for Higher Education will today brief his Cabinet colleagues on the plan for reopening third-level education next year.

While a lot of detail has yet to be worked out, the best-case scenario would see the return of large-scale lectures.

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Campus services like canteens, sports facilities, bars, clubs and societies will also return subject to public health advice.

At a minimum, smaller lectures, workshops, libraries and tutorials will return.

University College Cork Students Rent University College Cork. Image: Peter Zoeller/Zuma Press/PA Images

Niall Collins, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education told Newstalk that it is essential to get students back on-campus.

“Tuition and education have been delivered online with very little in-campus, in-person facetime being afforded to students because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“So, we are acutely conscious that we need to get people back into campus, back into lecture theatres, back into college in person.”

student accommodation The DCU campus in Dublin. Image: HEA

The ongoing vaccine rollout is viewed as key to the plans.

Meanwhile, a major study pilot study of rapid antigen testing is due to get underway at four universities this week.

The tests could become a key part of the reopening plan depending on the outcome of the study.

“We have been piloting rapid antigen testing as part of our preparations so later today as part of our comprehensive plan, we will unveil all of the details in relation to the measures which we will take,” said Minister Collins.

The plan notes that the return of larger-scale lectures is only achievable if the public health environment continues to improve in the coming months.


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