IUA Statement 27th Nov: Priority for universities for the next term is the safety of staff and students and maximising the student experience

As the country prepares to adapt to further changes in the public health guidelines, the universities represented by the IUA are now completing the process of communicating with their staff and students on plans for the next semester.

All universities have remained open throughout Level 5, albeit that the majority of teaching has been done online while research work, laboratory and practicals for students continued on-campus in most instances. Student extracurricular activities have, however, been severely curtailed.

Universities are acutely conscious of the challenges faced by students in the current context and of the flexibility shown by staff to continue to deliver high quality tuition. In order to provide some degree of certainty for students for the New Year, universities have planned the next semester with a continuation of large class teaching online. The ambition is to increase in person teaching and face-to-face activities on campus should evolving public health guidelines permit it.

The IUA welcomes the guiding principles agreed for the sector following recent discussions with Minister Harris and his Department which enable universities to plan in a manner that “is best suited to their own context and the requirements of their staff and students”. We share the ambition of the Minister for a measured and incremental increase in face-to-face activities on-campus where it is possible to do so safely.

Commenting on plans for the next semester, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA said: “Our absolute priority is to try to do whatever possible to improve the student experience at this most difficult time. Working with staff at a local level, universities are doing everything they can to support students and have put in place a range of extra supports for student welfare. We are hopeful that the revised public health guidelines will enable further incremental increases in on-campus activity and in person teaching. Apart from academic settings, it would be particularly beneficial to students if sports and leisure facilities on campus could be made available in a controlled manner.”

Prof Patrick Prendergast, Chair of the IUA Council, welcomed the guiding principles developed by the Department and said: “The potential opportunity for providing increasing levels of small group learning as restrictions ease is welcome, as is the recognition that some learners require additional support over and above that which can be provided online”.

The IUA will continue to work with Minister Harris and his senior officials to respond positively to the changing levels of restrictions in the best interests of students and staff.



For more information contact:

Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, IUA 085 7141414 lia.osullivan@iua.ie