October 22, 2020

Statement of the Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) on Level 5 Restrictions

    21st October 2020

    The members of HECA are fully committed in supporting their students during the immediate challenges of the nation’s level 5 restrictions during this incomparable academic year. We recognise the exceptional challenges faced by our students, staff and the wider community and will continue to maintain academic standards and provide quality teaching, learning and student engagement in a safe environment, and in full compliance with public health guidelines.  

    We welcome the clarity provided by Minister Simon Harris and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on the Level 5 Guidelines for Further and Higher Education in providing safe continuation of our higher education programmes. It’s also important to acknowledge the valuable collaboration, support, commitment and work led by the Department across the further and higher education sector, both private and public, to ensure that campuses across the sector are safe and controlled environments for those learning and pastoral activities that cannot be undertaken remotely.  

    Under Level 5 restrictions, teaching and learning activities will now be predominantly remote and the activities than cannot be facilitated remotely will continue to take place on campus in line with Government guidelines and will include:

    • Teaching and research in laboratories, practical tuition and workshops and skills-based learning, and clinical placements.
    • Direct engagement with learners, including small group learners, who require additional learning/study or pastoral supports or have difficulty with exclusively online participation.
    • Pre-booked access to libraries and other onsite study space with appropriate public health controls for those learners who do not otherwise have suitable facilities or home environment to access learning remotely.
    • Provision of necessary onsite support to meet the mental health and welfare needs of students

    Commenting on the move to level 5, Patricia O Sullivan, Executive Director of HECA said: “Our members have the strong message that they are prepared for the new public health restrictions and are fully supportive of the governments COVID-19 level 5 measures and their recognition of higher education as an essential service. All our members are committed to ensuring that the learner experience, services and safety is central to their provision of quality and innovative teaching and learning throughout the level 5 restrictions.”

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