Students returning to NUI Galway are being warned they face possible expulsion from the University, if they breach public health guidelines in the coming months. 

In a letter emailed to all students this afternoon, the institution says it will invoke its Code of Conduct for anyone found ignoring advice, aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The correspondence, from the Dean of Students, comes as thousands of people travel to the city for the start of the new academic year next Monday.

University authorities are keen to discourage the holding of house parties and other large gatherings in the weeks ahead.

The code lists "any behaviour that endangers the welfare of the individual or others", among the examples of potential breaches. 

Calling on students "to work together like never before", the letter specifies a range of measures that have been taken to minimise the risk from Coronavirus for the 2020/21 academic year.

These include the provision of face masks to all students, one way systems to facilitate social distancing and a laptop loan scheme for those needing assistance to access remote lectures. 

The thirteen-page Code of Conduct, updated in 2018, gives a number of examples of breaches which can result in penalties.

These include "any activity, whether taken place on or off University grounds, which adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the reputation of the University".

Students are told it is incumbent on them to be familiar with the regulations and says claims of ignorance will not be entertained as part of any disciplinary process. 

Sanctions range from a formal reprimand up to permanent expulsion from the university and its premises. 

Earlier this month the University rowed back on plans to have all students sign a pledge stating they would adhere to public health guidelines, before they could register for college. Initially students were informed that any breach of the pledge in question could result in disciplinary action. 

Following protests, students are now being asked to instead commit to the pledge but can chose not to, and still register for their courses.