First year undergraduate students entering University College Dublin (UCD) in 2020 will start lectures almost 3 weeks later than first-years in 2019.

It is expected that the teaching term for first-year students will begin on September 28th. Undergraduate students at later stages of their programme and graduate students will begin lectures on September 21st. Students entering Stage 1 of the Graduate Entry programmes Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, and Radiography will also begin their lectures on September 21st.

The teaching term is set to be 10 weeks long for most incoming first-years, ending on December 11th, usually spanning 12 weeks. UCD has not yet provided information on whether this means students will have a different workload to students in previous years. It is also unknown what changes will be made to curriculums to account for the difference in the length of the teaching term.

The Trimester 1 exam period will begin immediately after the end of the teaching term this year, on December 14th. This stands in contrast to previous years, where students usually have a revision week between the end of lectures and the beginning of exams. This difference may reflect UCD’s decision to suspend exams in the RDS this year in favour of continuous assessment and online exams.

UCD has also stated that formal orientation activities for first-year undergraduate students will be held from September 22nd this year. Aisling O’Grady, Head of Student Advisory Service, exclusively told The College Tribune, “Orientation planning is underway and it is intended that orientation activities will take place from 22nd September. This is later than usual due to the late publication of Leaving Certificate results.”

O’Grady also stated: “There is a college wide committee with student representation working to ensure that incoming students get the best possible experience in current circumstances and it is envisaged that the new student welcome will be using a blended online and in-person based approach.”

As in previous years, students at later stages of their programmes have been recruited as orientation guides, but it is not certain how their work will be carried out this year, as their lectures will begin the same week as first year orientation.

In communication with students who applied to become orientation guides in 2020, UCD stated: “‘Orientation Week’ will be a lot different this year with a limit to the provision of on-campus activity. However, we also know that the incoming student cohort deserve an excellent experience and we are hoping to deliver a small on campus program to all incoming students. The focus of the on campus element of Orientation 2020 will be a Peer Mentor led tour around a 1 way system on the Belfield Campus.”

Students entering UCD in 2020 will also pay the same tuition fees as in previous years, despite the shorter teaching term and the university’s move to blended learning (with classes taking place both online and on campus). UCD has said that there will be no reduction in fees, stating: “We are absolutely committed to delivering the highest-quality learning and student experience at UCD and are very much looking forward to welcoming students onto our campus as soon as we can. We are currently planning for every eventually [sic] to follow Irish government advice. We are confident that students will still be able to engage with their programme of study effectively and receive the highest-quality learning and student experience, no matter what the circumstances.”

Isobel Dunne – Reporter