The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) will use Croke Park as a satellite college campus over the coming academic year in order to allow for socially distanced learning.
The Irish Times reported today that RCSI has signed a deal with Croke Park that will see the college hold lectures in the GAA headquarters throughout the 2020/21 academic year in areas usually reserved for corporate conferences and events.
The agreement will allow 650 students to learn in a large, socially distanced space and will grant them access to study spaces, restaurants and other services outside teaching hours from Monday through Saturday.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Chief executive and registrar of RCSI Prof Cathal Kelly said that the arrangement “will ensure that our students receive a meaningful and safe educational experience when they return this autumn”.
“There is no doubt that the academic year ahead will be like no other in our university’s 236-year history,” he added.
Prof Kelly said that the move came as part of a broader effort to respond to the logistical challenges posed by socially distanced learning.
“We are developing an engaged blended learning programme and putting robust safety measures in place in order [sic] ensure we can provide a positive educational experience in a safe environment”, he added.
The additional space will ease pressure on RCSI’s city-centre campus – which will also reopen with social distancing measures and a mixture of on-campus and online teaching – and teaching facilities at Beaumont Hospital. Most of the students that will use the new satellite campus would typically attend lectures in Beaumont Hospital.
Should matches return in the autumn, provisions have been put in place to ensure that the facilities will still be available for sporting events on Saturdays.
As a city-centre campus, space has been an issue for RCSI in recent years. In February it received planning permission to develop its new €90 million education and research centre in the centre of Dublin despite local opposition.
The new facility will stretch across the RCSI campus in the area around St Stephen’s Green. It will include research laboratories and classrooms, as well as catering, recreational and welfare facilities.