A number of third-year law students have hit out at the Law School for creating unworkable timetables that have in-person and online lectures scheduled to take place immediately after one another.
Students received their long-awaited timetables for the coming semester on Monday, with Trinity among the last of the universities to inform students of what they can expect their semester of blended teaching to look like.
For some students, the timetables brought more uncertainty than clarity however, and left many scratching their heads as to the logistical demands of this new form of learning – third-year law students in particular.
Speaking to The University Times, Eoin Jackson, third-year representative for Trinity College Law Society, said that a number of third-year law students were frustrated with their timetables. “One of my classmates has four hours of lectures in a row but it’s a weird mix of in-person and online, in-person, online”, he said.
“How are students supposed to go study online and then immediately be in college afterwards unless they suddenly teleport to college? It’s just not going to work.”
Jackson said that students dealing with these turnarounds would need “some kind of guarantee that you have somewhere to go where you can study”.
“If you are trying to limit the number of people on campus at any one time, you do have to make adjustments to the process to ensure that people can get from A to B without having to be dependent on a library space or a study space that might not be available in the first place”, he said.
“We all saw what happened in Galway, what happened in UCD, and kind of hoped that Trinity would do a better job of it”, he added. “But that was probably wishful thinking.”
At the beginning of September, NUI Galway (NUIG) and University College Dublin (UCD) informed students of the number of in-person hours they could expect. In both universities, students were outraged to discover that they would only have a handful of classes in-person – if any at all – despite having previously been assured that the colleges were working to “maximise” the number of hours students would have on campus.
Orla Hughes, a third-year law student, has an in-person lecture scheduled to take place straight after an online lecture. “I hope they’re going to change that because I don’t really know how I’m going to get myself from my house in Phibsborough to Goldsmith in 10 minutes”, she said.
Third-year law student Aizzah Adil has also had issues with her timetable, having been scheduled in for an online lecture immediately after an in-person lecture. “I would find it quite difficult since I’d most likely have to commute”, she wrote in an email to The University Times.
“I don’t mean any disrespect”, she added, “and while I don’t have a problem with being on campus it does seem a little bit inconvenient for one face-to-face class”.
Head of the Law School Mark Bell sent an email to law students on Monday in which he noted that “many emails have been sent to the Law School office already about the timetable”.
“I need to ask for your patience to bear with us as we try to iron out the details. This is a completely new way of functioning, so there will be issues to be resolved, but we will continue to do our best to deliver an engaging student experience.”
The email explained the department’s plan for teaching in the coming semester.
With the number of students permitted in a lecture theatre for a face-to-face class at any one time limited to 50, law students in larger modules will be “allocated to a group and permitted to attend the F2F lecture on a rota”.
“The F2F lecture will always be recorded, so those who are not in attendance can watch it and, where possible, it will also be live-streamed”, he said.
Bell said that all law lectures in the first week will be delivered online as students are still enrolling in modules.
The email added that hour-long classes would, in fact, only last 40 minutes in order to allow time for “one group to exit fully the lecture theatre before another group arrives” according to public health guidelines. Names of students attending face-to-face lectures will be recorded “in case contact tracing is necessary”.
Trinity did not respond to a request for comment on the law students’ complaints by time of publication.