Yesterday morning, University of Limerick (UL) announced that students will be required on campus for only one week throughout the month.
Lectures will be held mostly online, during on and off-campus weeks, due to space constraints created by physical distancing measures.
However, UL will hold in person tutorials and labs during the week students are allowed to be on campus.
UL’s students will still be required to pay a fee of €3,500, as well as accommodation expenses of up to €6,000.
The move has sparked outrage among parents, who are furious they may have to pay up €6,000 to reserve a room in a student apartment when students will only be required on campus for a fourth of the month.
Speaking to the Irish Times, a parent stated: “Accommodation on a one week per month basis does simply not exist in third level. All media attention is centred around getting younger kids back full time, while the fee paying third level students have just been abandoned by their university.”
The parent continued: “There will be no fee reduction to reflect that her course is now just basically an online course.”
A UL spokesperson stated that this is in line with government social distancing measures to prevent a second wave of Covid-19.
The email UL sent to their students yesterday stated that first year undergraduate students will spend four of the twelve weeks of the coming semester on campus, while all other students will spend three weeks on campus every twelve.
The email explains that “priority” will also be given to students accessing educational facilities during their scheduled on-campus weeks, including the library and other study areas.
The email from Prof Kerstin Mey, Vice President for academic affairs and student engagement in UL said that UL’s blended approach of on-campus and online learning aims to minimises the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak by using “social bubbles”, keeping year groups together, and a “circuit breaker”, or periods off campus.
It adds that students’ on-campus weeks will resemble a regular teaching week as much as possible.
UL’s approach to the upcoming academic term differs largely compared to the plans put in place by other colleges across the country.
Trinity has pushed back the start of the original Michaelmas term by three weeks, with students due to start classes on September 28. Trinity has moved all of its large scale lectures online, but will provide in-person labs and tutorials to students throughout the week.
UCD also told students to expect to be in classrooms for around 40-60% of the normal schedule, while Maynooth told its students they would be on campus for 50% of its normal timeline.
Yesterday afternoon, UL announced that it is to become the first Irish university to appoint a woman to serve as president. Professor Kerstin Mey is to take on UL’s presidency in September.