In a press release today, the University College Dublin’s Students’ Union (UCDSU) have called on University College Dublin (UCD) to be “more transparent” with students about details on how the college plans to open in September.
The union have expressed concern that UCD has been “over ambitious” in their proposed amount of time students should expect to be on campus, in the hopes of attracting international students and filling on campus accommodation.
According to UCDSU, the registrar of the college has said that undergraduate students can expect 40-60% of their learning to take place on-campus, while graduates can expect 75-100%.
Conor Anderson, UCDSU President said that “based on a cursory look at the proposed timetables for some of UCD’s master’s programs, this seems to be an exaggeration”.
Anderson continued that the union, “echo[s] the concerns of academic staff regarding the proportions of in-person learning vs. online learning that management has promised”.
“In one course, students will have zero in-person class-time for the first five weeks of term, after which they will be expected to be on-campus one day per week,” he continued. “That is closer to 0% than it is to 75%.”
This morning, UCDSU wrote an open letter to the college, calling for transparency with all prospective students and calling for a response to their requests for clarification.
The letter to Professor Mark Rogers from UCDSU Welfare Officer Ruairí Power stated: “Students deserve to make informed decisions on whether they will need accommodation near campus or if it will be safe to return to campus, and if they should travel from abroad to UCD.”
The letter continued that a “number of concerns” have been expressed by the student body at the college’s proposed proportion of classes taking place on campus, particularly from students with disabilities and underlying health conditions.
“No specific guidance was offered to vulnerable students/staff in yesterday’s email, and many students are at a loss as to where they should seek further information,” the letter added.
Power posed a number of questions to Rogers, asking what public health advice has led the University Management Team to determine that 40-60% of undergraduate lectures will be able to take place on campus and 75% to 100% for graduate students, as well as what level of engagement from the Department of Health had an impact in the drafting of the reopening plan.
Power explained that the email to students yesterday explained that “hybrid learning” would be available for students who cannot attend lectures in person, yet there was no practical information for these students provided.
UCDSU President Connor Anderson stated: “I am worried that UCD has been over ambitious in the hopes of attracting international students and filling on campus accommodation.”
“This, alongside plans to increase both fees and the number of enrolled students, belies a total lack of concern for student welfare and the public good.”
On May 18, Trinity began its “phased” reopening for students and staff over several months. While construction was allowed to resume on campus on this date, the Library is expected to reopen the Berkeley/Lecky/Ussher complex, the Hamilton Library and the John Stearne Medical Library on a limited basis to give readers access to study spaces and the ability to borrow books using the self-issue kiosks from July 29.
Trinity is expected to commence its’ “blended learning” approach from September 28, three weeks after the original start of the Michaelmas term.