By Conor Brummell
NUI Galway has informed its students and staff that it has begun planning for the 2020/2021 academic year, in an email sent out this morning. The email comes just as the 2019/2020 exam period has started, and begins by thanking students for their “considerable forbearance in challenging times” and that as “this academic year draws to a close, it is time to begin planning for the coming academic year 2020/2021.”
The email encompasses the widely diverse community within NUI Galway, acknowledging all types of students, staff, and the programmes the University runs from all campus locations that this crisis has affected. The University has stated that it will need to “balance decisiveness and flexibility to accommodate all of these” for the upcoming academic year.
The college outlines the following plans for the academic year 2020/2021:
- With the Leaving Cert postponed, there will be a later starting date for incoming first years, who will be sitting exams on the 29th of July. The new starting date will be some time in November, depending on the turnaround of Leaving Cert results being sent out. NUI Galway hopes that as these student’s progress to 2nd year, they will slot back into the normal academic year structure that is already in place.
- For other undergraduate students, the starting date has been pushed back until the 28th of September. This a once-off measure in order to plan for social distancing and travel requirements that may still be in place past the summer. This will have a knock-on effect on the academic year structure, and it is proposed that Christmas exams, traditionally held in December, will now take place in January instead.
- The University also encourages research students to liaise with their supervisors to figure out how best to commence or further their research where possible. There will be guidance given where interruption affects the research of students in this scenario.
- It is also noted that teaching and exam dates for Medicine, Nursing & Midwifery, Education and for regional campuses may vary according to local teaching requirements. These will be communicated separately with these students once agreed.
NUI Galway also outlined that teaching will likely be impacted for the following academic year, stating that, “It is likely that some ongoing social distancing restrictions will remain in place beyond September. This may necessitate changes to the way we teach groups of students in lecture theatres, laboratories, clinics and theatres, particularly on programmes with large class sizes. There may also be changes to how we give access to learning resources.”
The University continued, “It is likely that when we recommence in September, there will be a blend of face-to-face on-campus teaching together with online teaching. In this scenario, online teaching would be temporarily provided in parallel to on-campus teaching in Semester 1 of Academic Year 2020/21 until all students are able to arrive in person. These provisions are important to allow flexibility for international students, who may have difficulty reaching Galway due to travel restrictions or for those students and staff who feel vulnerable attending campus due to their own health conditions.