May 27, 2020

Undergraduates Set to Return End of September, Exams in January 2021

Postgraduate students will ‘possibly’ start at the end of October, as College plans for a combination of online and in-person teaching next year.

Emer MoreauNews Editor
Eavan McLoughlin for The University Times

Trinity’s undergraduate students are likely return to College on September 28th – several weeks later than in recent years – with first-term exams set to take place in January 2021, The University Times has learned.

College will communicate the final dates of its re-opening to students and staff next Wednesday, with a combination of online and in-person teaching set to take place.

Unpublished minutes of a meeting of University Council, obtained by The University Times, show that College’s “ongoing effort” to manage the coronavirus crisis will likely involve students returning to campus later than normal, with incoming first-year students starting at the same time as all other undergraduates.


But if delays to the awarding of leaving certificate results mean first years cannot start College at the end of September, the return to class will be pushed back for all undergraduate year groups, according to the minutes. The first-term assessment period is being delayed until early January 2021 to allow for a full 12-week teaching term.

The discussions did not involve a final decision on whether the College will re-open, with Council set to confirm the dates in question at its meeting next Wednesday.

Catherine O’Mahony, a Trinity media relations officer, wrote: “All of these decisions have yet to be taken. Many are due be taken next Wednesday when they are also due to be communicated to the college community.”

Teaching in Trinity is likely to return on a blended basis, with large lectures online and smaller tutorials, seminars and labs taking place in person, Provost Patrick Prendergast said earlier this month.

Minutes of the meeting – which took place on March 13th – read: “The Vice Provost/Chief Academic Officer noted that it is expected that the academic year will commence later than usual, with undergraduate students proposed to start on 28 September 2020, facilitating the completion of the 12-week Michaelmas term before Christmas.”

“Assessment will be held at the beginning of January 2021, and that the proposed approach is consistent with that of the other Irish and UK universities.”

College anticipates that incoming first-year students will be able to start on September 28th along with all other undergraduates, but “clarification is required on when the Leaving Certificate grades will become available”.

The minutes said that “in the event of first-year students having to commence term later than the end of September, the commencement of the academic term will be pushed out for all undergraduate students”.

Postgraduate students will “possibly” start at the end of October.

The upcoming academic year will involve “blended learning” for students, as social distancing protocols mean that large lectures will have to take place online.

Last month, this newspaper revealed that College was considering moving teaching online – a decision that’s since been confirmed by Prendergast.

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.