€105m Funding Approved For Safe Return To Campus
€105 million funding has been approved to allow for a safe return to campus for the third level sector in September 2021.
This funding package is to include financial support for further and higher education. This will allow students to return to campus safely. It will also adhere to the public health advice regarding Covid-19. Students of higher and further education will also receive extra support.
€21 million will be granted for extra support. This will include the following:
- an extra €10 million in financial support to students in financial difficulties while in college, through the Student Assistance Fund
- an extra €3 million for student mental health
- €8 million to support and engage with disadvantaged learners, through the Mitigating Educational Disadvantage Fund
Institutions and providers will also engage with their stakeholders over the coming Summer and Autumn months to ensure that this does happen.
Plans are also put in place in the event of a spike in Covid-19 cases. Nevertheless, these plans will still see a significant increase in on campus learning and attendance.
The Safe Return To Campus
On the funding, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris had this to say.
“Third-level education has been primarily online for almost a year and a half, and this is not sustainable. The plan for a safe return on-site includes the return of lectures, with some modifications to overall numbers and specific mitigation measures”.
Minister Harris continued, “The funding will ensure COVID-19 supports for the sector and importantly, specific supports for students who will return to a new world in September. This will include additional mental-health and other student supports”.
“These past 18 months has been a really difficult time for students, particularly vulnerable learners. COVID-19 has had an effect on many people’s mental health. We need to ensure our students are supported as they get back to campus”.
“Over 250,000 people attend further and higher education every year. This year, the bulk of their work has been online. We know we had do it and we know why, but we also know we cannot have an academic year like the last”.
“We need to begin the next academic year on the right foot, get our learners and staff back on-site, and start the work of preventing long-term effects of the pandemic for our youngest adults. I know this has been a tough year for students and staff but, thankfully, a better year awaits you”.