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11th Aug 2021

Vaccines won’t be required to access college campuses – but will be to access campus canteens or bars

The unvaccinated will be able to attend classes, but not indoor drinking and dining.

Vaccines will not be required to attend lessons on college campuses once they reopen in September – but will be required to eat or drink indoors in campus canteens, cafés or bars.

In line with public health guidelines, students and staff wishing to access indoor dining areas and bars will have to show proof of vaccination, it has been confirmed.

A number of higher education sources told the Irish Times that students will be to receive the jab to ensure they can avail of the “full student experience.”

Hundreds of third-level institutions in the US have made vaccination mandatory for all staff and students.

Some zero-Covid advocates in Ireland argue it would make “perfect sense” to do the same here.

Dr Tomás Ryan, a neuroscientist at Trinity and member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group, said it was “not radical” to require students to be vaccinated in order to access campus grounds.

Speaking to the Irish Times, he said: “I don’t see how any university can expect to return to campus as normal. It’s not going to be like that. This will be a gradual process.

“We are going to have to see how the pandemic develops, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have mandatory vaccination for students wishing to participate in campus activities. It makes perfect sense.”

Last year, the vast majority of third-level lectures took place online. This year, the plan is for a “maximum on-site” presence from the beginning of the new academic year.

Colleges are collaborating with the HSE to ensure a safe reopening, including rapid access to testing and vaccination.

Though each institution is drawing up its own plans, agreement has been reached on a general approach to a safe return to on-site learning.