Written by: Chloe O’Keeffe
Design by: Rachel Fitzjohn
University in the midst of a pandemic is going to be a trialling period of time. Many countries and cities around the globe are still remaining in lockdown, which will make it very difficult for students to travel in and out of University daily/ weekly. Nevertheless, with Covid19 being in Ireland for at least six months, the Irish government have decided that now is the time where the people of Ireland have to begin learning to live with the virus. It’s the same in other countries, with restrictions being lifted across the globe.
This does not dismiss the potential fears and anxieties people may face on a daily basis when having to go about life and daily tasks. Asymptomatic people may find themselves feeling pressured to return to life ‘as normal’ whilst colleges and their world around them in reopening, but this is not the case, and a virtual college is available on hand where the more vulnerable, or even the more nervous are considered.
Things are different across Universities and Colleges across the country, and Europe. Many Universities are adopting the idea of a “virtual college” where classes will be done virtually from home, in a ‘working from home’ type of idea. The University of Limerick, Ireland will be doing a mix of online and on- campus learning, with first years on campus meeting lecturers, tutorials and peers once every three weeks, and remaining years getting the opportunity every month. As the cases have been recently in the spotlight in Limerick, and the staff at the University recognise the difficulty for students across Ireland to travel to Limerick on a daily basis one week a month, the University have promised the ability to “Study from Home” on the weeks that students may be allocated time on campus but merely not feeling comfortable enough yet.
Weeks off-campus will be accommodated for students virtually through a combination of live zoom calls and webinars as well as pre- recorded lectures that will be available on the student website. Similarly, on the weeks that students are allowed on campus, should an individual feel uncomfortable attending in- person lectures, these lectures will still be available online either through zoom or recorded and uploaded at a later time.
Universities across England and the UK will be reopening to returning and incoming students soon, with the Coventry University reopening in the coming days to more than 30,000 students. Though Education does need to get back to some sort of “normality” according to Provost Ian Dunn, it is also advised on the colleges and Universities of the United Kingdom to observe safer social activities such as clubs and societies and create Covid friendly campus pubs and students unions which will enable students to socialise in a manner that will make to abolish spreading the virus.
Many 2020 graduates will find themselves feeling hard done by in regards to the abrupt ending to University life they received, but others will find that the hardship is on incoming first years whom will miss out on their first Fresher Weeks, and the opportunity to meet and make friends without the pandemic hanging over their heads.
Starting University is difficult at the best of times but starting University in the coming weeks will be undoubtedly that bit harder, so ensure that you are availing of the Student Union and the campus pubs, when and where possible. There’s a wonderful article on The Collective Mag which gives some tips on how to make the most of your opening weeks of college.