Details of the new academic semester at UL were announced this Wednesday
Parents of students at the University of Limerick have expressed outrage over plans for the new academic semester.
Students were informed this Wednesday of the details of the university’s Academic Calendar Model for Autumn 2020 which is based on a “blended learning approach” in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
First year undergraduate students will spend four of the 12 weeks of the coming semester on campus. All other students on taught programmes will spend three weeks on campus.
“I am furious, we already have booked accommodation for my daughter who will only be in the college for one week out of four,” said one parent who contacted the media to voice their anger, "She will spend three weeks out of four studying in the bedroom of her apartment. She got 600 points in her Leaving Cert and could have chosen any college in Ireland. We are really disappointed, they are treating the students like an inconvenience.
“Also the weeks she is off, she is not even allowed go and study in the library, it is an absolute disgrace,” the mother continued.
The email which was sent to students by Prof Kerstin Mey, Vice President Academic Affairs & Student Engagement, says the blended approach of on-campus and online learning, “minimises the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak by using social bubbles (keeping year groups together) and a circuit breaker (periods off campus) based on scientific insight into the spread of the virus.”
The autumn semester will commence on September 28 for the majority of students. The email states that in order to minimise the risk of virus transmission, "priority will be given to students accessing educational facilities during their scheduled on-campus weeks including the library and other study areas".
Access to buildings and sport facilities for extra-curricular activities will be managed by the respective clubs and societies. "This will likely be on a pre-booked basis and further information will be published closer to the start of the new semester."
All Erasmus programmes are cancelled for the coming semester (Autumn 2020). An alternative Erasmus programme has been developed for students who had arranged Erasmus placement in Autumn 2020.
Students meanwhile, have been tweeting their reaction to the details of the plan for the new term.
"Can fully become a part-time farmer now since I’ll be at home for majority of the semester," said one.
"Tell ye what @UL best not even attempt to charge full tuition fees for this semester. 3 weeks on campus and you can't even use the facilities outside of that," tweeted another.
When contacted this Wednesday afternoon a spokesperson for the university said: "All decisions have been taken in line with the government’s public health guidelines and the requirement for social distancing to prevent the spread of infection and to keep our campus community safe."