A pilot scheme of rapid Covid antigen testing has been introduced in four colleges across Ireland with the aim of preventing the spread of the disease in educational settings.
UniCov is conducting a large-scale analysis of rapid testing technologies to support students returning to campus.
The scheme began on Monday at NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and University College Cork.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said thousands of students and staff were expected to participate in the study. “If proven through piloting and feasibility, the benefits of rapid testing could be a significant additional tool in our fight against Covid-19,” he said.
UniCov is designed to assist the safe and sustainable reopening of education campuses across the country.
The project lead, Prof Breda Smyth from NUI Galway, praised Irish students for their resilience throughout the pandemic.
However, Prof Smyth warned studies have shown “adverse effects” on the student population including a reduction in academic performance, social isolation and deteriorating mental health and wellbeing.
She said: “UniCoV will inform surveillance systems to support the provision of safe campus environments and provide evidence to facilitate return to campus activity for staff and students in Further and Higher Education Institutes.”