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'It's not like Normal People': how Covid-19 will change college life

The big read: Students face mounting uncertainty over what life on campus will be like this autumn as a result of the coronavirus, with social distancing, online lectures and the prospect of commuting from the family home. Kim Bielenberg reports

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Space to think: UCD student Celine Dakik: 'We shouldn’t forget about all the measures that were put in place to fight the virus.' Photo by Arthur Carron

Space to think: UCD student Celine Dakik: 'We shouldn’t forget about all the measures that were put in place to fight the virus.' Photo by Arthur Carron

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UCD student Gearóid Dardis in Trim, Co Meath. Photo by Gerry Mooney

UCD student Gearóid Dardis in Trim, Co Meath. Photo by Gerry Mooney

Edwina O'Brien is hoping to do nursing in Letterkenny. Photo by Andrew Downes/Xposure

Edwina O'Brien is hoping to do nursing in Letterkenny. Photo by Andrew Downes/Xposure

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Space to think: UCD student Celine Dakik: 'We shouldn’t forget about all the measures that were put in place to fight the virus.' Photo by Arthur Carron

'It's absolutely not going to be like Normal People," says Professor Anthony Staines of Dublin City University as he looks forward to the start of the academic year in Ireland's third-level colleges.

In the coming months, tens of thousands of students will arrive on campuses at universities and institutes of technology, but there is still a strong element of uncertainty about what student life will be like. Will they be able to go for coffee, exchange notes or even hang out in this sterile new world of social distancing and face masks?

If colleges' current plans work out, most lectures will be streamed online. Seminars and tutorials will take place on campus and, in the short-term at least, students will be kept two metres apart where possible.