NUI Galway have announced that Semester two learning will continue online.
In an email circulated to all students last week, signed off by President of the University Dr Ciaran Ó’ hÓgartaigh the university stated that they, “expect to continue next semester with the current levels of on-campus activity still in place.”
They urged students to plan in advance for this s
cenario and reassured students that the current supports in place this semester will continue into next semester.
The news comes months in advance of the start of second semester teaching on February 8th after the University were widely criticised over delays in announcing plans for semester one in September.
NUIG informed students just three days before the start of Semester One on September 28th that following recommendations from the Irish University Association that they would be delivering lectures online initially for a two-week period.
However as cases of Covid-19 continued to spike NUI Galway announced that lectures would be delivered online for the remainder of Semester One.
The University were one of the few third-level institutes who were yet to make an announcement on plans the second semester with UL, DCU and Maynooth all ruling out a return to on campus activity after the Christmas break ahead of NUIG.
The University have opened the door for increased on campus teaching next year, acknowledging that they will support the maximisation of on campus activity in line with public health guidelines.
However, they noted that any in-person teaching would be optional, and students unable to make it on to campus would be able to complete their modules entirely online should they wish to do so.
Students’ Union President Pádraic Toomey welcomed the announcement,
“ I think students are delighted that there has been some decision made on this, obviously we would have liked a decision to have been made as early as possible so that students could make decisions for next semester, especially International students who have to decide if they’re going to travel home and stay home or if they’re going to fly back here afterwards.
Toomey also called for further clarity on what exactly the announcement means telling Sin.ie,
“There’s still an awful lot of information that we need to know. We need to know how this will reflect at a college level and will students actually have more time physically on campus next semester, and if so, what will that look like?
It’s about drilling into what this letter is saying because it does from what I understand say that it is going to be the same as this semester, but increased in–person activities that are optional to attend but how much is that for every student, and is it worth it for a student to continue paying for their accommodation? It answers some questions, but it also raises some.”
Some students expressed their disappointment at the news. Speaking to SIN, a final year Human Rights student said, “It’s disappointing that I won’t get to finish my final year in University on campus, especially considering the cost of fees. “
The outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland and the closure of college campuses last March led to a rush by Universities to makes plans for end of semester examinations, and the SU President expects the recent announcement to signal that semester two exams won’t take place in an exam hall.
“If I was reading between the lines I would understand that the exams would be online exams because they don’t expect you to be in Galway, so it would be hard for them to expect you to be there for physical exams, I’d imagine it will be the same kind of online exams as it was last year. It’s worth noting though for first years that its going to be particularly difficult because they don’t actually have Christmas Exams this year so it’s going to be a confusing time for them next summer when it’s the first time that they’ll be doing University exams and we will need a lot of support and guidance for them so that they don’t feel lost.” , he said.