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Minister Harris launches €5m Covid fund to drive ‘student success’

9 Nov 2020163 Views

The aim of the fund is to help higher-education institutions adapt to teaching and learning in the digital world.

Today (9 November), Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, announced a €5m fund to help reform teaching and learning in Ireland’s higher-education sector.

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This is the latest initiative in a series of Covid-related supports. Budget 2021 revealed funding of €8.9bn for the Department of Education, including €50m to assist college students and €120m for reskilling and upskilling people impacted by the pandemic. Last month, 14,000 additional college places were launched to help people gain skills and return to work.

The €5m funding call unveiled today will facilitate “teaching and learning innovation” in the higher-education sector, focusing on adapting to a digital world. It will bring together experts in teaching and learning to help the country reach targets across employability, internationalisation, innovation and equal opportunities.

Student success

The Government will measure student success in a number of ways. More emphasis will be placed on professional development, as well as helping students transition to new environments and feel a sense of belonging.

Speaking at the announcement, Harris said the call had been issued in response to “Covid-19’s ongoing impact on the higher-education sector”.

“In March 2020 when our colleges closed their doors, the sudden move to online and remote education brought great challenges,” he said. “However, our higher-education institutions rose to that challenge and their innovation ensured the continuation of students’ education as well as realising the potential to support future success.

“Today, we want to take that innovation and build on it. So we want to hear from you about how we can all learn to strengthen the student success across face-to-face, blended, online and remote teaching and learning contexts. Through this fund we will learn and grow for the success of all our students.”

The call will be rolled out by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The forum’s director, Dr Terry Maguire, said her team will work alongside the Higher Education Authority to help colleges “optimise the potential of this fund”.

“This call represents an opportunity to support the higher-education community to consolidate any positive disruptions to process and practice that may have occurred in 2020, with a view to enhancing efforts towards holistic approaches to enabling student success,” Maguire said.

“The pandemic has taught us how quickly circumstances can change and the need for those who teach and those who learn to be confident in their knowledge and skills and supported in adapting their abilities to a variety of circumstances.”

Each higher-education institution can submit one proposal outlining how they would use the funding to enable student success. Learn more about the call here.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa joined the team as senior Careers reporter in July 2019 with previous experience in science communication and media. With a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, she is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos.

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