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CAO applicants willing to go to college in autumn, but concern around making friends and online learning - survey

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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

Almost all CAO applicants in a recent survey said they would take up a college place in autumn, despite the Covid-19 restrictions.

However, many have concerns about adapting to an online learning environment and making friends.

The Dublin City University (DCU) survey of almost 1,500 prospective first years, found that 97.8pc would follow through on an offer of their first, second or third course choice.

This is despite speculation that many CAO applicants would defer their places because of the impact of Covid-19 on the college experience.

But more than 40pc of those surveyed expressed concerns about adapting to an online learning environment and about 30pc are worried about making friends.

All higher education colleges are preparing for a return that will involve a blended learning approach, with a mix of face-to-face classes and distance learning.

Generally speaking, institutions are planning to deliver lectures online with students attending campus for laboratory classes, practical sessions, and small group interactions.

All college authorities are paying special attention to the needs of new students, many of whom find the transition to college a challenge in any year, and there will be added factors this year.

The survey findings also show that securing accommodation was a concern for over 25pc of prospective students. As part of its response to the changed circumstances this year, DCU has already announced a more flexible approach to staying on-campus that will allow for bookings on a nightly or weekly basis

DCU Director of Student Support and Development, Dr Claire Bohan said the findings emphasised the desire of students to have a sense of human connection and learning support, as they adapted to a new environment, and one which would be very different owing to Covid-19.

“We are very conscious that incoming first year students have been through a very difficult and challenging time already. All students, but particularly first year students, can trust that all of this has been taken into consideration

“Incoming first years can rest assured that they will be supported in every way, as they begin their college life,” she said.

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