Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has today welcomed the return of students back to campus, but has called on the government to work with third-level institutions to provide as much online options to ensure a safe return for everyone.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“I welcome the return of many college students to campus today. Education is an essential service and must be prioritised.
“In order to ensure the return to campus is safe for everyone, I am calling on the Minister and all institutions of higher education to provide as much flexibility in terms of online learning as possible.
“The full range of health conditions and living situations of students and staff must be taken into account. This can only be achieved in the current environment by providing online options for those that need them.
“The department’s ‘Safe Return Plan’ states one of its objectives is – ‘To retain some scope for online teaching and scope for continuity for students and learners who cannot attend on-site for health reasons’.
“Despite this outlined objective, many students are not being afforded this option. We need to use what has been learnt over the last two years regarding online learning and assessment.
“Undoubtably, this places an additional burden on colleges and their staff. And we know the third-level sector is further hampered by a decade of underfunding and restrictions on recruiting staff.
“The Minister must recognise these weaknesses in the system and take decisive action to support colleges to deliver online options for students.”