Sinn Féin spokesperson for Further and Higher Education Rose Conway-Walsh TD has welcomed the government’s announcement that further and higher education campuses will be open in September but called on the Minister to provide greater clarity.
The Mayo TD said:
“It is certainly welcome that third-level students will be back on campus. Many of these students have not been on campus for over a year.
“But today’s announcement is light on detail and places a lot of the responsibility on the colleges and universities. I will be seeking to engage with the Minister as soon as possible on the plan.
“We are still waiting for the full framework or the associated funding proposal. The announcement also seems to refer to both a full resumption and phased incremental return. It talks about controlling numbers and ‘mainly’ on-site activity for all students, learners, and staff.
“Students will have a lot of questions regarding what it will really be like in practice.
“People understand the challenging environment in which these plans are being made. But they also expect an honest and clear assessment of what they should expect.
“A good news story isn’t of any use if it leads to students and families making the wrong decisions around their education, transport and accommodation. These have proven very costly in the past.
“If there are restrictions on numbers based on lecture hall and classroom capacity, then that needs to be explained clearly.
“Last summer we had a disconnect between government messaging and what universities and colleges were saying would be the case on the ground once health guidelines were actually applied before the second wave led to the plan being abandoned.
“But we all want this to be a success and for students to be on campus in a safe way, so today is a positive step in that direction.”