The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents 4,500 academic staff in Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities, has highlighted its serious concern at the failure of some institutions to engage properly with stakeholders around the safe return to campuses for the new academic year.
TUI has called for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to ensure nationwide adherence to key protective measures.
All mitigation measures must be strictly adhered to – there can be no short cuts taken where health and safety is concerned, the Union’s President has today said.
Speaking today, TUI President Martin Marjoram said:
‘As staff and students return to campuses around the country, there is understandable anxiety around the continuing risks and challenges posed by COVID-19, particularly in relation to the more transmissible Delta variant.
It is absolutely essential that key mitigation measures such as mask wearing, ventilation and distancing be utilised consistently to ensure that workplaces are kept as safe as is possible. In addition, there must be clear and consistent messaging that staff or students who have any COVID-19 symptoms should not attend campus.
Essential to ensuring the safety of all in college communities is the risk assessment of all classrooms, practical rooms, lecture halls and communal areas. In this regard, we are seriously concerned by the failure to date of some managements to engage and communicate with employees in a meaningful and timely manner.
Where they arise, TUI representatives are addressing such unacceptable situations locally, but the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science must do much more to audit and ensure nationwide adherence to this and other essential safety measures.
There can be no short cuts taken where health and safety is concerned.’
Underfunding still a major issue
Mr Marjoram said that before ever the pandemic arrived, the complete political failure to address the funding crisis at third level had wreaked severe damage on the sector, and that now more than ever, significant additional funding be provided as a matter of urgency.
‘With a significant projected increase in student numbers at third level, urgent action must be taken to finally address the funding crisis in the higher education sector. In this regard, we are warning once again that in the move by consortia of institutes towards technological university status, significant additional funding must be provided. Regrettably, we are yet to be convinced that this fundamental necessity is understood by Government.’