Statement from Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO, Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) on behalf of the Presidents of the Institutes of Technology in Ireland. Published 20/10/2020.

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This is an exceptional moment in the history of our country. We are fully committed to supporting students through this academic year and to ensuring that teaching and learning will take place in a safe environment, meeting academic standards, and in full compliance with public health guidelines. We acknowledge that students of the 2020/21 academic year have faced unprecedented challenge and we are mindful of the responsibilities we bear in supporting them through their learning experience.

We welcome the acknowledgement from Minister Simon Harris of the work that has been devoted to ensure that campuses are safe and controlled environments for those learning and research activities that cannot be undertaken remotely. Under Level 5 restrictions, these activities will continue to take place on campus in line with Government guidelines and will include:

  • Teaching and research in laboratories, practical and skills-based tuition, workshops (including training of apprentices), and clinical placements
  • Engagement, including small group learning, with learners whose particular needs require additional support over and above that which can be provided online
  • Scheduled access to libraries and other onsite study space with appropriate controls for those students who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely
  • On-campus research activities which cannot be undertaken remotely

We continue to work positively and we encourage our students to avail of the student services available to them through the welfare and mental health services in all campuses.

Dr Joseph Ryan stated: "We welcome the recognition of higher education as an essential service. Our Institutes of Technology acknowledge the responsibility attaching to the discretion afforded them as they work with staff and students to ensure safe continuity of provision through this period of increased restriction. Adherence to public health advice has moved higher education to a blended provision but with the facility to provide access for students to pastoral and academic supports where necessary. Our staff will continue to demonstrate the flexibility to deliver innovatively and with determination to maintain the quality of provision and to protect the essence and centrality of the student experience."

For more information please contact:

Róisín O'Connell: Head of Communications, THEA: (087) 9193333; roisin.oconnell@thea.ie