The start of the next academic year is to be pushed back by three weeks to September 28, with semester one exams to take place predominantly online in January.
In order to accommodate Michaelmas Term exams, both revision and assessment weeks have been moved to after the Christmas period and are to take place almost entirely online.
Exams are scheduled to begin on January 11 and last up to two weeks in a move that would see Scholarship (Schols) exams, which are due to begin on January 18 and run for a week, potentially overlap with the regular assessment period.
In an email to staff and students, Vice-Provost Jürgen Barkhoff outlined that “there is a possibility that these assessments may run for a second week in parallel to the Scholarship examinations”.
The decision to move back the beginning of term will accompany other social distancing measures in response to Covid-19, including an integration of online learning and in-person teaching. Large lectures, in particular, are to be held online until at least 2021. The “hybrid” model will allow for “seminars, tutorials and laboratory classes” to take place in person.
Provost Patrick Prendergast confirmed that the University Council approved these measures and tweeted a revised year long calendar for the 2020/2021 academic year. An email has been circulated to students and staff detailing the shift in semester start date and giving details for the upcoming year.
Both semesters are to have 11 teaching weeks, with teaching in Michaelmas Term finishing on December 18. Hilary Term is to begin on February 1 and summer assessments are to finish the week of May 17, an overall shift of two weeks compared to previous years.
The delay may ease the transition for incoming Junior Fresh students, whose entry date to third level has been left uncertain due to the cancellation of the Leaving Certificate exams and their replacement with predicted grades. Orientation is to begin on September 21, and will include “online introductory sessions on the use of the digital/online teaching” as well as face-to-face sessions, subject to current health policy.
The email assured students that they would “be kept fully informed of all developments. The university will continue to be guided by College health authorities and Government advice.”