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Maynooth and Limerick universities sticking with re-opening plans despite three-week delay for CAO offers


(stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

Maynooth University (MU) and the University of Limerick are sticking with their re-opening plans despite the three week delay in the release of the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.

However some colleges are revising their dates, including the country’s largest university, UCD.

UCD said it will affect its plans to have first year orientation in the week beginning September 14.

“We anticipate it will impact on these students and are seeking to minimise this for them”, a UCD spokesperson said.

Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) is also amending its plans and is delaying orientation week to September 28, with lectures for first years starting on October 5 . Returning students will start On September 21.

Dublin City University (DCU), which had planned a two week orientation programme for first years starting on September 21, said it will have to curtail that. Teaching will start for all students on the previously announced date of October 5.

The disruption to the Leaving Cert this year had prompted all third-level colleges to pencil in provisional, later starting dates for the first semester .

Now all colleges are reviewing their arrangements in light of the published timelines for the results and offers.

Maynooth had previously announced that its orientation week for first years would start on September 21, with lectures for first years and continuing students beginning the following week.

A university spokesperson confirmed that they were pressing ahead with those dates.

Meanwhile, the University of Limerick (UL) is also going ahead with its existing plans to bring first years on to campus on September 28.

The results will issue on September 7, three weeks later than usual, and CAO Round 1 offers will come four days later on September 11.

Students will have until Wednesday September 16 to accept a CAO Round 1 offer and generally more than 90pc of college places are filled then.

CAO Round 2 offers will issue on September 23, and depending on the college, acceptance of a place in that round may mean a slightly later start for those students.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) said while its seven universities had hoped to bring in first years for induction and orientation in advance of the main body of students, “that may not now be possible."

An IUA statement added that the universities were “ working to provide clarity in that regard as soon as possible, with start dates as close as possible to those originally communicated to our students.”

The IUA also expressed “surprise and disappointment with the timing of finalising grades, noting in particular the challenges faced by students and their families” although it did acknowledge “the unique challenges” facing the Department of Education.

IUA Director General Jim Miley, said the focus of the universities now was “ to give clarity to students as early as possible. Each university will quickly finalise their revised plans based on the delayed date for grades release. Our priority is to ensure that first year students are given the necessary welcome and induction and to ensure the safe return of all students to campus."

The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), the umbrella body for institutes of technology and TU Dublin, said its colleges were committed to affording incoming students the necessary time to make arrangements.

THEA CEO Dr Joseph Ryan said colleges would “continue to show the flexibility and offer the full range of student supports that will assist new entrants in transitioning securely and safely to third level study."

Acknowledging student concerns, he said the institutes were there “to support you and to ensure that you are facilitated to settle confidently into the coming academic year where our commitment is to protect the student experience that is so valued and characteristic of this sector”. The association welcomed the clarity in relation to the key dates for receipt of calculated grades college offers.

The Union of Students in Ireland is calling for immediate clarity on when the new academic year will start for colleges and universities.

USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick said the delay of the Leaving Certificate results announced last night is unfair on students hoping to start third-level in the autumn who have already faced so much change and uncertainty this year.

“There have been so many U-turns, delays and changes to what was happening around the Leaving Certificate that this further delay is very disappointing for students planning to start college or university this year. The turn-around time between the results coming out, CAO and UCAS offers being made and college starting is now extremely short, which heaps yet more pressure on students,” she said.

“There can be no more changes and delays now and institutions need to set out for students when the new academic year will start and what it will look like. This has an impact on every year group – students just don’t know what is happening. We need to know when the new year will start. How much remote learning will there be? How often will students be on campus? This just can’t drag on any more at this stage,” she added

USI is also calling on the grants agency, SUSI, to extend its priority deadline, so that students who apply now can still get priority status “in light of all that has happened”.

Ms Fitzpatrick added: It would take a little bit of pressure off students who have been repeatedly been told one thing would happen, and then another. They need some support and certainty now.”

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