By Áine Kenny and Paraic Fearon
This year’s academic calendar has changed in comparison to previous years, SIN can reveal.
The change occurs during semester two. The traditional “time off” period for semester two was one week for field trips, one week for Easter and one week for study week. This meant three weeks in total.
In the academic year 2015/16, students had three weeks off in semester two. While field trip days and Easter holidays were intermingled with each other (three field trip days fell on either side of the four Easter days), this is still two weeks of time off. This period was from Monday 21 March – Friday 1 April.
Students then had a standard study week. All together, this is three weeks.
Similarly, in the year 2016/17, students had a full three weeks off; this came as a three – week block. Study week was from Monday 3 April – Friday 9 April.
There was a week for field trips from Monday 10 April – Friday 14 April. Students also got a week for Easter, from Monday 17 – Friday 21 April.
During the 2017/18 academic year, field trip week fell on 26 – 29 March, a period of four days. Good Friday fell straight after these four days on 30 March, and from that date, one week was given to Easter holidays. This meant students had two weeks off.
Teaching resumed on 9 April for a further two weeks, with a study week happening from 23 – 28 April.
This meant that students had a total of three weeks off in semester two for the past three years.
The 2019 academic year is a different. Firstly, Easter falls late this year. This results in 12 weeks straight of teaching, which the University can’t avoid.
Field trip week has been shortened to three days: 8 April – 10 April.
Study week now begins immediately after this on a Thursday, and still lasts a week from 11 – 18 April, finishing just before Good Friday.
The traditional full week of Easter holidays has also been cut down. Students now only get Good Friday 19 April – Easter Monday 22 April off. This is only four days.
Exams start on 23 April and last until 10 May.
This effectively results in a lost week of study for students in semester two. Students only receive 14 days off during semester two of this year.
Caroline Loughnane, the academic secretary of NUI Galway, spoke to SIN in relation to the issue.
“The Academic Calendars for 17/18, 18/19 and 19/20 were approved by Academic Management Team in January 2016, which was attended by the Registrar, Deans of all Colleges, Dean on International Affairs, Director of CELT, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice President for the Student Experience.”
“The calendars were then subsequently reported to Academic Council, which has a wide representation including Students’ Union representation.”
“Both years have the standard Easter days – Good Friday to Easter Monday, both years have Field trip days, both years have a Study week.”
Tara Leydon, Director of Academic Administration, also confirmed the dates.
“I can confirm, there are three field trip days, Monday 8 April – Wednesday 10 April, seven days for study week, Thursday 11 April – Thursday 18 April, and four days for Easter, Friday 19 April – Monday 22 April.”
“Each Semester has 12 weeks of teaching, and Easter as it falls each year does impact the Academic Calendar.”
Eibhlín Seoighthe, NUI Galway’s Students’ Union Vice President/Education Officer, said; “it is a reduction in study time, no matter what way you look at it.”
“There are 12 weeks of solid learning, and now students have less time to narrow in on the examination topics, and to try and produce a good quality exam.”
“It is an academic disadvantage… the college could try to look at bringing in a mid semester reading week so students can recharge.”
“Students are expected to study and revise for exams as they go along, but sometimes this is not possible if you are asked to prepare different topics for each week, and not all are going to be examined.”
“Exam appeals have also gone up this year. This indicates students are under serious pressure, the counselling service is at full capacity… you have to wonder are the college doing students justice with this reduction in time off.”