In an email sent out to all current students, UCD Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Mark Rogers announced that the university “will not be running our traditional examinations in the RDS, Blackrock or the Newman Building this trimester”. The university will attempt to replicate all scheduled lectures, assessment and grading as best it can, in a time which Rogers described as “very difficult, challenging and unsettling”.
The Deputy President said that he understands that students may be worried about the impact of the outbreak on assessment and grading. However, sending a message to students, Rogers wants to “reassure you that your lecturers’ approach to assessment and grading will be of the highest standard and will reflect your academic achievements.”
This comes after University President, Andrew Deeks announced that from “23rd March, through to the end of the academic year, we will be adopting an at-distance teaching and learning model for all undergraduate and taught masters students.”
UCD are not alone in committing to an online education model, Trinity College Dublin announced that all lectures would be delivered online. As of publishing, at least 5 TCD students have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation.
These measures are part of efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 which started with the decision to close schools, colleges and childcare facilities as announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar until at least March 29th. These measures include the cancellation of all indoor events of more than 100 people. Following these announcements, the Taoiseach ordered the closure of all bars and public houses from the 15th to the 29th of March.
Varadkar visited the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD on Wednesday the 19th to thank the team for their work so far in fighting the virus, during a period which Varadkar described as the “calm before the storm” in his State of the Nation address on March 17th.
Universities across Europe have also attempted to move courses online. After Hungarian authorities announced a ‘State of Emergency’, teaching activities in the country’s universities will be carried out using distance-learning methods and the spring semester will be extended until August 31st. Additionally, all universities in Italy, Denmark and Poland have been closed, with some, such as the The University of Bologna organising exams online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted examinations across the world. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced yesterday, March 18th, that GCSE and A-level exams will also not take place in May and June.
The Scottish Education Minister, John Swinney announced today that all exams would be cancelled for the first time in Scottish history. “In the midst of two world wars the exams went ahead.” commented the Minister.
UCD has severely restricted all access to campus buildings and will operate using “out-of-hours” protocol to limit spread of the virus between students. Residents of UCD’s on-campus accommodation will continue to be catered for by the university.
Hugh Dooley – Reporter