This afternoon, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Research Simon Harris announced an additional €3m in funding for student mental health and well-being.
Harris also said an additional €10m in funding would go to the Student Assistance Fund, which aims to support students who face financial difficulty during their time in college. Along with this extra funding, Harris announced the creation of a “mitigating disadvantage fund” of €8m. This is a fund for “community education” for “some of the most vulnerable learners within our education system”.
These moves come as part of larger government investment of €105m to assist colleges, universities and ITs in reopening on-site in September. In a statement, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) said: “This further package of Covid support funding for higher education is warmly welcomed by the IUA and its member universities. It provides the resources necessary for the additional spending required arising from Covid and to prepare for the on-site return to campus this autumn.”
In October, Harris announced the creation of “National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework” to advise and fund third-level institutions on the provision of mental health supports to students.
Speaking on the announcement today, Harris said that he hopes this extra funding will “make a real and meaningful difference as we try to get our students safely back to college campuses”.
From last night, anyone over the age of 18 can register for a Covid 19 vaccine appointment on the HSE website. Harris said that this “will be important for the weeks ahead”.
“I know it’s been a really, really tough time but now the vaccine programme is open for younger people as well, so we’re getting there” he continued.
In June, Harris announced the “safe return to on-site further and higher education and research” plan, which aims to help colleges return to on-campus teaching and learning in September.
In-person tutorials, labs and social activities are all set to resume in September under this plan. A decision on large-scale lectures has yet to be made.
This article was updated at 3:05pm to add comment from the IUA.