I propose to take Questions Nos. 147, 148 and 153 together.
Following Government approval, I published A Safe Return: Plan for a safe return to on-site Further and Higher Education and Research in 2021/22 on 15th June. The Safe Return Plan can be accessed at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/publication/bcd91-a-safe-return-to-on-site-further-and-higher-education-and-research/
The plan, which emerged following extensive discussions between university representatives, public health and other relevant stakeholders, provided a framework for higher education institutions to proceed with planning for a return to on-site campus learning that would be in line with public health guidance.
In that context, institutions and providers have undertaken their own detailed planning and work for a comprehensive return to on-site activity. At a minimum, on-site activity this year will include laboratory teaching and learning, classroom based teaching and learning, tutorials, workshops, smaller lectures, research, return to work-spaces and access to libraries with appropriate protective measures in place. As part of the safe return to on-site learning, other on campus non-educational activities and facilities such as sports, bars, canteens, clubs and societies will operate in line with prevailing general public health advice for those activities.
The Higher Education Institutions have committed to maximising the on-campus experience available for all students, in line with public health advice. Due to the diversity among education providers, each institution will implement the return to campus in their own way. It is not for me to determine the exact way in which any institution implements the return to on-campus learning.
My Department and I have engaged with Trinity College and we understand the amount of face-to-face teaching will increase significantly over the coming weeks. I encourage students to engage with Trinity College directly on this matter, as the university itself is best placed to provide information on how the return to campus will progress throughout the academic year.