The following letter is in response to University College Dublin’s (UCD) proposed university structures for Trimester 1 in Autumn 2020. National health guidelines will pose “significant challenges” to maintaining face-to-face college as we know it, with plans to adopt “hybrid” learning, no exams in the RDS, late September start, Saturday classes, specified student groups to share classes with, and not a lot of student mixing.
I’m a student with a learning disability and a chronic illness, and I’ve already had to withdraw from this year due to the disruptions of my mental health.
The lack of structure and support from online learning has made it nearly impossible for me to continue to study, part of my learning disability means I need structure and routine and I’ve lost all of that due to how poorly organised measures were for my course. As well as this, nearly all my modules in my final year don’t feature seminars and are taught through small lecture groups.
The lack of structure has also seriously impacted on my mental health and my condition with chronic pain as it’s made my management harder. I’m incredibly worried about what another online semester will do for my studies and even completing my degree. I’m incredibly worried I won’t be able to do a masters, as I won’t get a 2.1 due to these measures impacting on my GPA.
As well as this, the idea of class hours outside of 9am and 6pm seems to be unreasonable for those of us who will have to do readings and prepare for classes.
If we have an 8am lecture and don’t finish until 7 or 8pm, it’s going to be nearly impossible for us to balance our readings and assignments and essays whilst also keeping up with lectures and managing to stay healthy. Some students have commitments outside of college, be it looking after children or family or working so they can afford to live in Dublin.
As well as that, Saturday classes seem to be incredibly unfair on those who need to work weekends or have to travel home. It’s hard to find digs that are 7 days a week as a lot are Monday to Friday, or Monday to Thursday and understandably the amount of people offering digs may well decrease due to Covid-19 to begin with.
It’s an issue I don’t think UCD has even considered: it’s going to be much harder for students to even find somewhere to live so that they don’t have long commutes and that they can afford to live in.
This is, in part, a panicked response from a student who isn’t sure what to do because their funding is going to be impacted, and they can’t afford to really take a second year out but is also concerned that not taking a year out will see their degree suffer. It’s hard to figure out what is best for you when the university seems to have already failed on some of their promises and poorly managed the previous semester of distance learning without considering some of the implications in courses where there are no tutorials or seminars when it comes to taking a course completely online.
I’m sure many, many others are in the same boat. I can understand these measures, however I do feel let down by the lack of clarity and how UCD doesn’t seem to be considering all students, it’s simply not practical for everyone to be completing classes on a Saturday or classes considerably later than 6pm or earlier than 8am.
Eva – UCD Student