Third-Level Education Reopening Plan

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has published the third-level education reopening plan, which foresees a safe return to on-site activities for further and higher education students, learners, and staff for the 2021/22 academic year.

The government is developing a  framework allows institutions to adapt to changing circumstances and allow a safe return for all.

The return is based on the target that the majority of people over 18 in will have been vaccinated by September 2021. Planning is proceeding on the basis that full resumption of on-site activity is possible, while ensuring that overall numbers attending on-site are monitored and controlled.

Third-Level Education Reopening Plan

In addition to the safe return to on-site activity, the government have laid out seven further objectives for:

  • to support ongoing public health requirements
  • to support the ongoing needs of students, learners and staff
  • to retain some scope for online teaching and scope for continuity for students and learners who cannot attend in person for health reasons
  • to ensure coherence and consistency in planning and the implementation of public health guidance across the sector
  • to support autonomy in the work of institutions and providers in the development of their plans
  • to enable a significant resumption of disrupted research activity and return of researchers to site
  • to enable a phased return for on-site learning during the summer period

A new framework has been developed for a safe return to on-site activity for September 2021 allowing institutions and providers to consistently and safely adapt to ongoing changes to COVID-19 guidance and circumstances.

All going to plan, it is expected that a full return to on-site activity is feasible.

This will mean that larger lectures can happen within limits linked to reducing the size / capacity of very large lecture halls and adjustments to the timetable to reduce the number of people on site at any one time. Institutions and providers will determine how best to do this in their own context.

The following will take place on site from September:

  • laboratory teaching and learning
  • classroom based teaching and learning
  • tutorials
  • workshops
  • smaller lectures
  • research
  • workspaces
  • libraries
  • canteens – operational in accordance with public health advice on work place canteens
  • sports facilities – operational in accordance with public health advice
  • clubs and societies – operational in accordance with public health advice
  • bars – operational in accordance with public health advice

Institutions and providers will provide for the needs of individual staff and students who remain at risk of infection, in line with public health advice. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.


Steven Galvin

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