Dublin City University (DCU) has set September 21 as the start date for first years, two weeks ahead of the general return of students on October 5.
The September 21 date is provisional and will depend on the final timelines for the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.
DCU has also confirmed that there will be hybrid approach to teaching and learning in the first semester of the 2020/21 year.
In the expectation that social distancing requirements will operate through the rest of 2020 and into 2021, the university said it would bring students and staff physically onto campus only when, and in a manner, that is safe to do so.
“It is clear that bringing large groups of students together for lectures will not be possible. Consequently, we are planning for hybrid delivery of teaching, with lectures primarily online and students attending campus for face-to-face laboratory classes, practical sessions, and small group interactions, where possible.”
DCU said its plans provided sufficient flexibility to adapt to evolving circumstances, such as to pivot towards predominantly face-to-face learning in the event of a positive healthcare development or to react swiftly to the re-imposition of government restrictions, including the complete closure of our campuses.
There will also be revisions to the academic calendar, changes to programme structures, and new approaches to the use of space on campus.
Many students will be disappointed that DCU is cancelling the Erasmus year abroad and outgoing student mobility for the full 2020-21 year for degree programmes with a structured year abroad.
DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said their plans were driven by three principles: protecting the health and wellbeing of students and staff, providing the highest quality education possible for students, and optimising the broader student experience within the constraints imposed by Covid-19.
“The first of these principles is paramount and overrides everything else,” he said.
And he said if any student could not access campus because of their specific healthcare situation, “we will provide the highest standard of remote delivery to overcome these issues.”