One hundred-and-forty students will jet into Limerick from the African continent tomorrow, Tuesday, to study at the University of Limerick, and will have to isolate on UL’s campus for 14 days as part of international covid-19 travel protocols.
The Algerian government is funding the PhD students to study at UL under a deal estimated to be worth over €10million to the university.
UL said the partnership is part a move by Algeria to move from French to English as the official language of teaching and learning in third level, and that all necessary protocols will be taken to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The 140 Algerian students who signed up for the four-year PhD last year have spent the past 12 months learning remotely, however although the group of students will arrive at the UL campus on Tuesday, they will have to carry on learning remotely until such restrictions are lifted at UL.
It’s understood the 140 students will fly from Algeria into Shannon Airport.
Latest statistics show there have been 103,833 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 2,836 COVID-related deaths in Algeria, with a population of just over 43 million (2019). According to Reuters COVID-19 world tracker, “COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Algeria, with 241 new infections reported on average daily.”
When contacted, a UL spokesman said: “These students have been studying online since February of last year, but will travel to Limerick this week as part of the blended learning delivery of the programme. They have completed the first year of their PhD remotely and will now be in Limerick for three years.”
“In advance of travelling to Limerick, the students have been isolating for 14 days in Algeria and are in possession of a negative PCR test. They will also restrict their movements for a further 14 days on their arrival.”
The spokesman confirmed the students “will not be engaging in face-to-face teaching, it will be remote delivery in line with current government restrictions and they will be living in on-campus accommodation”.
“They are coming to Limerick because the technological infrastructure and internet is not good across Algeria; for electronic access to the library, data bases, and other UL systems, it is easier for the students to be here,” they added.
UL said that “travel for education has been deemed as essential under the government’s current restrictions, all incoming international students will receive an appropriate briefing on how to comply with prevailing public health measures in Ireland”.
“Key principals for welcoming international students to Ireland were adopted by the higher education sector following extensive consultation with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science,” the spokesman added.
A spokesperson for Shannon Airport said they would not be making any comment.
All those taking part are expected to return to university lecturing posts in Algeria once they complete their PhDs. They are arriving on a direct flight from Algiers organised by the Algerian government to Shannon Airport.