22.07.2020 SOLAS welcomes announcement of €168 million package for third level institutions and students

SOLAS welcomes today’s announcement by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath TD of a €168 million package of supports for further and higher education institutions and students.

This package of supports will cover costs incurred by third level institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic and enable further and higher education institutions to return to college this September.

Significant supports for students, including increasing student supports, access to mental health services and a new scheme aimed at helping students with access issues were announced.

There is a significant digital divide emerging among our student population. Many students have difficulties accessing devices – laptops or tablets, while some can’t access WiFi and others need assistance in using the devices for college work. This new scheme includes €15 million will help address that digital divide and give students the tools to continue their education.

Minister Harris has also confirmed that funding will be provided for research projects that could not be completed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A high level Further and Higher Education Roadmap which will offer guidance on the return across further and higher education has also been published. Prepared on a consultative basis with stakeholders and the assistance of public health expertise available to the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, this guidance is a live document and can change and update as public health advice evolves.

With additional funding and guidance, third level institutions have the necessary tools to return to education in a safe manner.

A copy of the press release from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is available here.

Practical Guidance for Further and Higher Education for Returning to On–site Activity is available at gov.ie/backtocollege