The Union for Students in Ireland (USI) is calling for “rapid decision making” regarding online teaching and learning.
USI has stated that government should “concentrate on online teaching and learning” except for the courses which require face-to-face teaching.
USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick who expressed concern, stating: “We were extremely concerned when the announcement to have teaching and learning take place online at the start of the term was made late on Friday afternoon when colleges were set to open up on Monday. That is very distressing for students.”
On Monday evening, University College Dublin (UCD) President warned university staff that current restrictions on academic activities would probably not be lifted until “the end of the current semester” as they were advised to continue working from home.
Similarly, National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) announced that all its classes will be delivered online until Christmas as it “sensed the need for as much certainty as possible”.
In a press release this evening, USI announced that they are calling for students to be offered refunds or contract releases, which are also being required by UCD students living on campus.
However, USI clarified that campuses should remain open to students for vital needs in the same way as NUI Galway maintains its accommodation open while allowing students to return home and being refunded the cost.
USI represents 374,000 students in third level education across Ireland.
Lorna Fitzpatrick explained that study spaces must be provided on campus, while necessary on-campus services such as libraries and health centres should be maintained.
Fitzpatrick continued to explain that connectivity issues also need to be addressed as the digital divide has been recognised as a major issue.
She added: “Consideration of the needs of students on placement, particularly those in professionally accredited courses need to be considered as a priority.”
USI continued to call on government to provide university students and staff with “transparent information” explaining the measures undertaken until Christmas as soon as possible.