Over the past number of weeks, under the leadership of the Academic Planning Group, we have been working to adapt the campus and learning environment for the coming academic semester. Our aim is to provide a safe and healthy environment for you to continue your education whilst maintaining a high-quality learning experience.
As a nation, we have done well to suppress Covid-19, however, as we have seen in other countries, the virus can re-emerge very quickly and there are numerous examples where restrictions that had been relaxed, were reintroduced after further outbreaks. The lesson from this is that we must remain vigilant and take all practical steps to minimise risk of transmission for the foreseeable future.
Our new approach for Autumn 2020 semester:
We will adopt the following blended learning approach next semester to allow as many students as possible back on campus, while also protecting the health of the campus and wider community. We have also incorporated feedback from students and staff on your experience last semester.
This approach, including 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 28 September for the majority of students. There are a number of courses (mainly in education, health science, business and in professional education) where an earlier start date is being considered to meet accrediting body requirements. You will receive separate notification from your Course Director if your course is scheduled for an earlier start date.
The campus will open for students on 28 September, for their scheduled on-campus weeks. Your timetable will follow the above plan and identify the weeks when you have classes on campus. All other weeks will be online learning weeks. 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.
First year undergraduate students will spend four of the 12 weeks this semester on campus. All other students on taught programmes will spend three weeks on campus. Research students should contact their supervisor for details of on-campus dates.
Your on-campus week will resemble a regular teaching week as much as possible. Space constraints created by the physical distancing requirements will mean that lectures will be delivered online during these on campus weeks, in addition to face-to-face teaching for labs & tutorials (up to 3 contact hours per week in each module you are taking). Individual courses will vary the content between online and face-to-face teaching for students across modules in a way to maximise opportunities for students to engage in learning while they are on campus. Courses that are offered online only will continue to operate online during all weeks.
Note: during on-campus weeks, students can use their laptops to access online learning, and facilitates will be open to enable this including the library, computer labs and other spaces, ensuring social distancing is ensured.
Coming to university is a great way to develop new skills and meet new people through clubs, societies and events that run throughout the year. The university, UL Student Life and UL Postgraduate Student Union are working together to maximise the opportunity for these extra-curricular activities to continue. You can expect that, where practicable and in line with government guidelines, we will continue to offer you an opportunity to participate in these activities.
Your online learning week will resemble a regular teaching week as much as possible, but with all content delivered online. This will enable students to engage in synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. Individual courses will vary the content between synchronous and asynchronous activities for students across modules in a way to maximise opportunities for students to engage with maternal online.
Synchronous activities will be on your timetable and include scheduled broadcast lecture or tutorial sessions. Asynchronous activities include those that you can undertake at any time including pre-recorded lectures and activities/tasks online (e.g. forum discussions, quizzes, etc).
Like previous years, the timetable will be available at least a week before the semester commences on 28 September. This combined timetable will detail your scheduled activities for both the on-campus and online learning weeks.
ITD advise that there are two important technical components to maximise your student experience when participating in remote online learning:
- Device Access: Regular access to a device (e.g. laptop) will enable you to remotely access materials and curriculum content (e.g. access to Sulis, reading materials, lecture recordings, live classes and lectures).
UL are working with suppliers with the aim of publishing a list of suitable laptop devices and prices, for students who do not already own a device. Further information will be communicated once suitable devices and pricing have been agreed with the vendors.
- Internet connection: Access to reliable WiFi or a home broadband connection is recommended, however, remote learning can also be facilitated via a reliable and consistent Mobile Broadband connection.
For those students that do not currently have access to broadband, a range of wired, wireless and mobile broadband solutions are now on offer in the market covering the majority of geographic locations in Ireland and, generally, service details are available online. ITD will offer more advice and guidance for students regarding broadband at a later stage.
If this applies to you in any way, please follow HSE advice and self-isolate if recommended. Where possible, we will make arrangements to allow you complete your scheduled activities online or to reschedule.
In-semester assessments will continue to be the default approach for the Autumn 2020 semester. At the beginning of the academic year, your module leaders will outline the assessments for each module, however, in general, there will not be formal exams during examination weeks. Please note that:
- Discussions are ongoing with accrediting bodies and it may be necessary in a limited number of cases to hold formal exams during the semester. You will be informed by your module leader at the start of the semester if this applies to a module you are taking.
- All assessments will continue to reflect the high standards, address learning outcomes and offer equivalent validity as any assessment ordinarily conducted on campus.
- Normal progression criteria will apply: students will be required to have a QCA greater than 2.00 and no deficient grades (e.g. F, I, NG, N) to progress to the next year of their course or to graduate as appropriate. Students who cannot progress will be required to repeat or link-in the following year.
- Please contact your module leader or course director for further information.
Priority will be given to students accessing educational facilities during their scheduled on-campus weeks. 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.
Due to physical distancing requirements, most of our student support services delivery will be online for all students to access during their on and off campus weeks, with some services also offering an on-campus service, where possible under the physical distancing guidelines. Details on accessing individual services across the university will be available on individual services websites at the commencement of the new academic year.
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. Your course director will be in contact with further details.
Cooperative Education: We continue to engage with employers regarding Cooperative Education opportunities for 2020/2021. In the coming weeks you will receive an invitation to a series of Coop planning workshops. These are scheduled to take place during September 2020.
School Placement: We continue to work with our network of schools on the delivery of the 2021 School Placement programme.
Clinical Placement: We continue to work with all placement providers regarding clinical placements for the coming academic year. Your placement officer will be in contact with further details if there are any changes or updates to your clinical placement.
For more student information click here or the images below
|Support||Who to contact?||Contact Details|
|Clinical Placements||Your Course Director|
|Cooperative Education Placement and School Placement||Cooperative Education & Careers Division||www.ul.ie/cecd/contactus|
|International programmes||Your course director / International Division||www.ul.ie/international/find-us/contact-us|
|Library & Information Services||Library & Information Services||https://www.ul.ie/library/|
|Student Affairs||Individual Offices in Student Affairs||https://ulsites.ul.ie/studentaffairs/|