Thursday, 14 January 2021
Covid-19 (Higher Education): Statements
The answer to the Deputy's final question is "Yes", but I do not hold all of the levers relating to this matter. I could give the Deputy a long answer about how all higher education institutions are autonomous and academically independent. There are, as the Deputy points out, also the professional regulators, including CORU but common sense is needed here. We cannot have a situation where we miss out on graduates in a given year, particularly in an area like social care where we need so many graduates to address a whole host of societal needs. I am asking all of the professional bodies and regulators to do what Deputy Harkin has suggested, namely, to challenge themselves to determine how they can respond in a pragmatic way that does not lessen quality or qualifications while taking cognisance of the very difficult situation presented by Covid-19. I assure the Deputy that there is a lot of engagement going on. I have asked for submissions, through my officials, from the USI, professional bodies and others to try to bottom this out this month. We are engaging very extensively on this.