NUI Galway’s returning students will start next year on September 28th, the college has said, with incoming first years set to begin in November.
Colleges around the country are currently attempting to put in place academic timelines for next year, despite widespread uncertainty about potential restrictions as a result of the coronavirus.
In an email sent to students, Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway’s president, wrote that the 2020/21 academic year will be delayed until November for incoming first-year students due to the postponement of this year’s leaving certificate exams.
Changes to the academic year will likely mean next year’s Christmas exams don’t take place until January 2021.
“Our top priority is to ensure that [first years] receive the same warm NUI Galway welcome, high quality education and supportive student experience as always”, Ó hÓgartaigh said.
The president said the college aims to “structure the teaching and assessment” to ensure that first years “will be able to slot back into the normal academic year structure for the start of [their] Second Year of study”.
He said the start date will be pushed back until September 28th for all other students, “in order to minimise disruption to [the] academic cycle”.
“The great uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions, travel disruption and social distancing requirements, and to allow for the preparation of online and blended learning” are all factors that had necessitated this decision, Ó hÓgartaigh wrote.
He said that the college is aware that this decision “may need to change in the light of public health advice”. He also noted that “some students and staff, to protect their own health and that of those around them, may not be able to access campus”.
Last week, The University Times reported that Trinity is considering moving large lectures online for the first semester next year, with the return of some face-to-face teaching potentially pushed back until as late as January 2021.
All teaching in Trinity has been taking place online since March, when the government instructed colleges to close their doors.
This year’s summer exams – which start today – are also taking place remotely, mostly in offline, take-home form. Some exams are being conducted online in real-time, with other modules assessed by assignments due between May 11th and May 15th.