Incoming freshers will start their first year in Dublin City University (DCU) on September 21st, two weeks before the college begins properly with a “hybrid” of online and in-person teaching.
“With regret”, the college has also scrapped its Erasmus programme for the whole year for students with a structured year abroad, according to a statement on its website.
While lectures will move mostly online, students will still attend campus for face-to-face lab sessions and small-group classes where possible.
First-year students will get a phased introduction to DCU over their opening fortnight, with “specific supports” to prepare them for online learning.
The college said it expects that certain levels of social distancing requirements will be in operation through 2020 and into 2021. Students and staff will only be allowed physically on campus when it is regarded as safe to do so.
In a statement, DCU President Brian MacCraith said: “Our plans for the coming academic year are driven by three principles: protecting the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, providing the highest quality education possible for our students, and optimising the broader student experience within the constraints imposed by COVID-19. But the first of these principles is paramount and overrides everything else.”
He added that “our proposed hybrid approach to learning will enable us to be flexible and to adapt to any change in circumstances”.
DCU’s decision to cancel Erasmus for the whole year makes it the first college to fully scrap the programme for students with structured years abroad. University College Dublin and the University of Limerick have already announced the suspension of Erasmus for next autumn, but have not called it off for the full year.
In an email this week to all UCD students due to go on an exchange abroad, Dr Douglas Proctor, the director of UCD Global, said: “The University has now taken the difficult decision that it will suspend Erasmus+ and Non-EU Exchange programmes for the Autumn Trimester 2020.”
“Having considered the varying public health advice in different host countries, the current travel restrictions nationally and internationally, and the uncertainty as to when such restrictions will be lifted, it is clear that it is not currently feasible for UCD students to plan their exchange activities adequately”, Proctor wrote.