A funding package of €105 million to aid the reopening of on-site learning for third level institutions will ensure that students across Dublin can get back to lecture halls come September, Emer Higgins TD has said. Deputy Higgins said, “The past year has been exceptionally difficult for college students, in particular those who started last September and after a full year of remote learning, still haven’t set foot in a lecture hall or library.
“The funding secured by Minister Harris reiterates the Government’s commitment to ensuring a return to on-site campus learning in the new academic year. While remote learning has bridged the gap during the pandemic, it is not a long-term replacement for classroom learning and we need to see students return back to third-level campuses across Dublin. “Included in the €105 million package is funding of €21 million specifically ring-fenced for additional student supports. This covers an extra €3 million for student mental health services, something that will be more important than ever as we deal with the aftermath of Covid-19 and lockdowns, an extra €10 million for the Student Assistance Fund which provides financial supports to students experiencing financial difficulties while in college, as well as €8 million for the Mitigating Educational Disadvantage Fund which supports and engages disadvantaged learners.
“Third level education is essential, and we need to see that reflected in the return to in-person learning at the start of the new academic year. This is something that Minister Harris has prioritised for months, and I know that he is continuing to work with Dublin’s colleges and institutions who are currently engaging in detailed planning for their own buildings and campuses. “Attending college is not only a defining experience for young people from an educational point of view, but also from a social perspective. While remote learning ensured that students continued to receive their education, so many people missed out on making friends, getting involved in clubs and societies and living away from home. This is what we need to see resume again. “I look forward to seeing students across Dublin return to their lecture halls and libraries, meet up with their friends and get back to enjoying the normal college experience again as soon as possible,” concluded Deputy Emer Higgins.