The Minister for Higher and Further Education has said he is excited about the reopening of college campuses.

Simon Harris said: "Students who've been doing college at the kitchen table will now be going back to college.

"I'm sure the parents would like to get the kitchen table back as well".

He said the plan for students to return safely to campuses has been endorsed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Harris said he met with the Health Service Executive yesterday and that every effort will be made to make the return as easy as possible.

Nine third-level institutions will use rapid antigen testing, he said, with more hoped to come on board.

Free face coverings will be offered to students.

Mr Harris said efforts to have pop-up Covid-19 vaccination centres to college campuses are under way.

In addition, all colleges will be in close proximity to PCR test centres.


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The minister said that current health measures in place in lecture halls will be reviewed as restrictions are eased at the end of October.

The number of college places has been significantly increased this year, Mr Harris said, adding that he believes the level of grade inflation in this year's Leaving Certificate will be high.

He also said that he wants to end the points race in the Leaving Cert and intends to "radically overhaul" the CAO process.

Mr Harris said the conversation needs to broadened beyond college and university places and focus on students and their career paths.