The Irish Universities Association (IUA) has welcomed the government’s €9 million fund to provide free COVID-19 antigen tests to third-level students. The fund will be available to higher education institutions in a bid to encourage their use on college campuses.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris will announce the fund alongside an awareness campaign around antigen tests and how to use them correctly.

The decision by the government has been praised by the IUA who said in a statement that the ‘IUA welcomes the announcement of €9m funding for the provision of free antigen tests for third level students.’

It went on to add that ‘universities will now work to source supplies of testing kits as soon as possible. We also welcome the announcement of an information campaign by the government on the correct use of antigen tests.’

The move comes off the back of a meeting between Minister Harris, Prof Mary Horgan, the chair of the government’s expert group on antigen testing, as well as Dr Breda Smyth, a public health consultant and member of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

In a statement to the Irish Times, Minister Harris said: ‘The fund is there to buy antigen tests and provide them to students for free, and it’s up to institutions how they decide to do that over the coming months.’ He added that the move was an expansion on existing testing facilities in universities, like the Uni-Cov project, which have been ‘an additional and helpful measure for students and staff.’

Conor Paterson – Co-Editor