First year entry delayed; Freshers’ Week to run alongside lectures for returning students

Incoming Trinity students are to start lectures one week later than returning students due to delay in Leaving Certificate results

Entry for incoming first years to Trinity has been pushed to October 5 following the postponement of of Leaving Certificate results to three weeks later than the traditional timeline.

New first year students are to start lectures on October 5, with Freshers’ Week beginning on September 28. Teaching for current students is to begin on September 28 in line with existing plans.

In a statement on social media, College said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming students in the new term and we are preparing to have face-to-face teaching for all students as much as possible in line with the social distancing guidelines at the time.”

On Thursday, the Department of Education announced that the results of calculated grades for Leaving Certificate students would be released on September 7, rather than mid-August.

First round CAO offers are to be issued on September 11, with second round offers following on September 23. The extended timeframe for offers raised concerns as to college entry dates for first year students, with many higher education institutions having already pushed back their academic calendars amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Eoin Hand said that the “transition to college is an incredibly stressful period for students at the best of times, but the unpredictability of the Covid-19 crisis has most certainly exasperated the issues regarding access to higher education in Ireland”.

Hand said that as a “member of the Trinity College community, it was incredibly disappointing to hear about the decision via an Instagram Story after 6pm on a Friday evening”.

“The absence of commentary from the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, is a huge let down to all involved in third level education, staff and students alike,” he added.

“In the midst of a housing crisis, students from outside Dublin will yet again be struggling to find accommodation with less than three weeks before they are due to begin their degree programmes,” Hand said. “Third level education needs to be accessible to everybody and this change in circumstances is further excluding many students from being able to pursue it.”

“This will also have huge implications for those involved in clubs and societies, as memberships and the crucial funds earned during Freshers’ Week will no longer be guaranteed. Returning students will now have to balance participating in Freshers’ Week while also adapting to hybrid learning. In these circumstances, students will, in some capacity, be forced to make a choice between their extra-curricular activities and their academic commitments.”

Earlier today, Director General of the Irish Universities Association Jim Miley said: “The focus of our universities now is to give clarity to students as early as possible. Each university will quickly finalise their revised plans based on the delayed date for grades release. Our priority is to ensure that first year students are given the necessary welcome and induction and to ensure the safe return of all students to campus.”

“The late publication of grades raises significant challenges for students and third level colleges but we do recognise the very challenging circumstances that have arisen following the decision to replace the Leaving Cert with the Calculated Grades system,” Miley said.

“Our resources and expertise are available as always to assist in this regard. We will continue to work with government departments and student representative bodies in order to ensure the best possible outcome for students.”

Trinity had rearranged its academic calendar in June to accommodate a later start for all students, moving the start of lectures to September 28 for all students, three weeks later than in a usual year. Under this model, Freshers’ Week would have ran from September 21.

Michaelmas Term exams, which have been moved to after the Christmas break, are due to begin on January 11 and last up to two weeks in a move that may see Scholarship (Schols) exams, which are due to begin on January 18 and run for a week, potentially overlap with the regular assessment period.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.