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Study at DCU 2020-2021

Attending DCU: Academic Year 2020/2021 FAQs

DCU STUDENT UPDATE FOR ACADEMIC YEAR 2020/21

We have some more information about DCU on-campus activity for the 2020/2021 academic year, and how it will work under current public health guidelines on COVID-19

DCU will be following government and public health guidelines and advice at all times for the upcoming academic year as your health and wellbeing is our priority.

As we have communicated previously, DCU will be operating a Hybrid model for 2020/2021.  This will mean that DCU campuses will be open and students will attend campus for face-to-face laboratory classes, practical sessions and small group interactions (e.g. tutorials and seminars). DCU campuses will also be open for students to attend all non-academic elements including Sports, Clubs and Societies activities.  

This on campus activity will be complemented by online teaching and learning and guided independent study. Since lockdown began in March the University has been prioritising investment in additional IT resources, teaching technology, teaching space layout and room configurations to ensure that the DCU high standard of academic delivery can be maintained in this new environment, and that those students who cannot come to campus for health reasons will be able to connect with the on campus activities in real time. 

DCU has over 25 years of experience in the design of online distance education. We will ensure the delivery of our programmes is of the highest quality and preserve the excellent DCU experience, while focusing on the most important elements for each programme.

DCU is significantly increasing the level of small group teaching for the coming year, to give students a direct and interactive experience with university staff where they can engage and ask questions, and build connections with other students. 

In addition, the investment which has taken place will ensure that we will be operating best practice to protect you and your families while you are on campus. This means there will be protocols in place on distance between individuals, cleaning, air changes, staggering campus arrivals and patterns of movement. The University will ensure students receive the same quality of learning and have the opportunity for meaningful engagement despite these restrictions.

Our plans for the coming academic year are driven by three principles: protecting the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, providing the highest quality education possible for our students, and optimising the broader student experience within the constraints imposed by COVID-19.

We look forward to welcoming our new first years and all our continuing students back in September / October and we hope that together, we can navigate through the new academic year and the unique challenges it will present to ensure it is an exciting, rewarding and highly valued DCU experience for everyone.

We have some FAQs setting out some of the information on DCU's plans for the next academic year. 
 

DCU 2020/21 1st yr Indicative timetable

 
 
When will Semester 1 start? 

DCU’s first semester will commence on Monday, October 5th and is 10 weeks long.

My DCU Orientation and Support Queries

DCU has created a student portal called My DCU. To access it, log on to My DCU on Loop. Here you will find your online orientation, events,  and information about your programme induction (where applicable). So get started as soon as you receive your credentials.  CAO Round 1 applicants and postgraduates will have access from 17th September.


Key Dates:
Get to Know DCU - Orientation Week 1 starting Monday 21st September (at MY DCU on LOOP)
All incoming students

Log on to My DCU on Loop to access online General Orientation courses, information, activities and live webinars happening this week (no onsite).

Programme Induction - Orientation Week 2 starting Monday 28th September (on campus/online or both where applicable)
Undergraduates

The week of Monday 28th September you will meet your programme team and other academic and professional support staff. Depending on your programme, this may be on campus/online or both. 

There will also be a number student-led activities this week (on campus and online) between 12 and 2pm. 

Postgraduates 

Your programme team will be in contact with you in relation to any additional programme specific orientation. 

There will also be a number student-led activities this week (on campus and online) between 12 and 2pm. 

Contact student.support@dcu.ie if you have any questions.

Hybrid Learning 
 What will my Semester 1 timetable look like?

Semester 1 student timetables will be structured in a way that will allow the university to maintain 2 metre distancing guidelines on campus. Any change in public health advice that for example could include a move to a 1 metre social distancing guideline will not impact upon Semester 1 timetables. 

This is to ensure that staff, students and their families can plan accordingly for the entire semester. It also gives the university time to prepare the campus, to adjust and plan for any further relaxation in COVID-19 Government guidance, and ensure staff and students feel safe and secure at all times.  

 

 When can I expect to be on campus for classes?

As far as possible, students will be scheduled on campus for a reasonable length of time (i.e. no less than half a day), to help minimise commuting times to campus. This could mean, for example, that campus activity is concentrated in specific weeks. We will have more details here at a later date.

 Do I have to be on campus if I am timetabled to be?

Yes. Students will be expected to come on to campus when scheduled to do so, unless they have a specific health-related reason why they cannot. We will have more details at a later date on who students should contact in this situation.

 When will I get my timetable?

Important information about timetables for the next academic year has been emailed directly to returning DCU undergrad students on the week starting August 31st. This information was sent to your DCU email address.

The indicative timetables show the number of days that on campus activities are planned for your class across Semester 1 as part of the hybrid learning model, and under current public health guidelines.  

Finalised and detailed timetables for campus and online teaching for Semester 1 will be made available before or during the week of September 28th, and indicative schedules for Semester 2 will follow later in the year. 

Students from all faculties including Engineering and Computing, Science and Health, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Business School, and the Institute of Education (with the exception of BEd students who will receive their timetable on Monday September 7th) will have their indicative timetables emailed to them by close of business Wednesday, September 2nd.  

Any student who hasn't received the email by the time indicated above should contact their programme chair directly to request an update.  

Communication with returning postgraduate students is being done separately by programme chairs.

For first year undergrads, there is an indicative timetable here: DCU 2020/21 1st yr Indicative timetable

This timetable information concerns campus elements of your academic schedule. In due course information around other aspects of DCU student life will be issued by clubs and societies, the Students’ Union and DCU Sport.  

 

 What about semester 2 timetables?

A decision on second semester timetables will be taken closer to the time which again will be informed by public health guidance at that time.

 What do I need in order to study next semester?

1. Device Access: Regular access to a PC, laptop or chromebook etc. which will enable you to access materials and curriculum content effectively. A mobile phone will unfortunately not be sufficient. 

2. Stable Internet connection: Access to reliable WiFi or a home broadband connection is recommended, however, a reliable and consistent Mobile Broadband connection will also work. If this proves difficult at home, there may be other options available. Do check locally (e.g. local library), and we will keep you updated on any specific initiatives.

3. A suitable quiet environment to study and access your course materials.  

From mid September, subject to social distancing guidelines, DCU Library intends to make a limited number of study spaces available, at ground level only. Students are advised that capacity of study spaces will be significantly reduced; more details will be made available on the DCU Library website closer to the time.  You can click on the DCU Library website here

It is important that students manage their learning well in hybrid delivery. The university and Schools will help students learn how to do this by integrating digital learning skills into the curriculum. 

 Student Experience

DCU is known for its student experience and is committed to providing the highest-quality student experience possible in the current unique circumstances. This will be central to our decisions in planning student timetables and on-campus activities, creating opportunities for students to connect with each other as much as possible, in a safe way. 

How will I get to know my peers? 

Scheduling of student groups on campus will, as much as practicable, encourage the development of small communities within class groups. Students will be scheduled with the same group for most of their classes and online interactive activities when possible. 

While on campus, student groups will be moved between venues as little as possible.

 Campus life: Will the restaurants, the U Building (Student Centre), Java Cafe, sports facilites and libraries be open?

Yes they will - we are finalising details on campus opening hours for the restaurants, the U building  and libraries.

Information will be available as soon as we have it. The Sports facilities on the Glasnevin Campus, St Patrick’s Campus and the Sports Campus will all be open.

In addition the construction of new 3G all-weather flood-lit pitch on St. Patrick’s Campus will be completed in September.

 What other activities on campus will be available?

Given the importance of student life at DCU, the Students’ Union, Office of Student Life, Student Support & Development, and Sports & Wellbeing have been working together over the past number of months to ensure that you continue to receive the first-class student experience you have come to know and expect regardless of whether you are on-campus or studying remotely. We hope to come back to you about planned activities on campus closer to the start of Semester 1.

In addition and in line with public health advice, it is anticipated that clubs and societies will also deliver a full suite of activities and opportunities for you to engage with.

 Face Coverings - Will I be required to wear a face covering in University buildings?

Yes. In line with public health guidelines, students will be required to wear face coverings while indoors in a public space on campus.

 Accommodation - how has DCU accommodation changed for hybrid delivery?

For the first time DCU is offering a fully flexible model of accommodation with choices ranging from one night to the full academic year, with some packages including meals.

The on-campus accommodation lottery has taken place, and rooms reserved with fully refundable deposits.

When students have an indication of the campus elements of their timetable, they will be able to indicate a preferred arrangement for their on-campus room booking for the year and, at that stage, rooms may become available to other students. 

More details on this flexible approach to DCU On-Campus Accommodation is available here.

Further updates will be posted on the DCU Campus Residences website

 Student Fees

Student Fees for 2020/2021 remain unchanged. As there will be no reduction in tuition standards, learning outcomes or qualifications awarded, there will be no reduction in tuition fees.

This year, in some instances, the delivery mode of teaching will be adapted. There is a misunderstanding generally that online learning is a cheaper option for the university which is not the case. As mentioned, the University is making significant additional investments to ensure our high quality academic standards are maintained, to facilitate students in this new Hybrid delivery structure and to provide additional investment for student supports. We are also prioritising small-group teaching, which means more staff resources are needed to support this.

Furthermore the commercial income that the University relies on to meet deficits in income has been decimated by the campus closure and Covid-19 restrictions. The income that the University normally generates, particularly over the summer period, which helps to fund the university is now not available.

 Can you tell me what is happening with Erasmus?

Outward Student travel -travelling from DCU to international host institutions

As previously announced, DCU decided, with regret, to cancel the Erasmus year abroad and outgoing student mobility for the full academic year 2020-21 for degree programmes with a structured year abroad. 

The university took this decision having considered the varying public health advice in different host countries, the current travel restrictions nationally and internationally, and the uncertainty as to when such restrictions will be lifted. 

Unfortunately, the situation in many partner and host institutions for the upcoming academic year still remains very uncertain. 

As DCU has a responsibility of care to all students and as we cannot guarantee the education of our Erasmus students for the entire academic year, the decision to cancel for this coming year remains the position of the University. 

However, we have been exploring alternative arrangements for students who were due to travel this year.  To align with the current system, and as an extraordinary measure, DCU will offer students who would have been travelling abroad on the Erasmus programme in 2020-21 the opportunity to take an Erasmus year starting from September 2021

We are working through the details with our partner institutions along with the academic considerations around this issue, but this means that students due to go on Erasmus will have the individual choice of whether to graduate with a 3-year degree or to go abroad for year 4 and graduate at the end of that year.

Please note that a final year Erasmus may not be possible in some teacher education programmes given the requirements for registration.

We understand that, for many courses, this year abroad represents an important element of the learning and developmental experience for students and we hope that this decision will allay some of your concerns.

 
Inward Student Travel - international students coming to study at DCU

We will accept incoming students.  

We expect that the number of international students in a position to travel to Ireland for study will be reduced as a result of the ongoing pandemic and health-related travel restrictions imposed.  

However, DCU will offer international students a hybrid learning experience. 

This means that Semester 1 will be taught online with the possibility to pivot to additional on-campus teaching if public health measures allow in Semester 2.  

We are working towards an on-campus delivery of teaching and learning for all students in Semester 2 if Government imposed health restrictions allow.  

We will confirm details as soon as they are available.   

 What is happening with INTRA and Placements?

 

INTRA Guidance for students expecting to spend all or part of the academic year 2020/2021 on INTRA:

If you are in the process of seeking an INTRA placement or will do so at the beginning of 2020/2021:

 The INTRA office will continue to work with you, the INTRA coordinator and with employers to ensure as many students get placements as possible. 

As the economy recovers, the likelihood is that placements will come through. 

If your placement is cancelled or postponed, if you do not secure a placement or you have to stop work to self-isolate:

 Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, some employers may withdraw their placement offers, or the availability of placements may be reduced.  

In this case, you will be required to complete an alternative activity  which will be communicated to you by your Programme Chairperson or INTRA coordinator.   

If INTRA is a full year on your programme, you may proceed to final year.  If INTRA is an optional year on your programme, you will need to progress into your final year.

 

Nursing, Teaching and Early Childhood Placements

We know that students with scheduled placements in nursing and teaching have many questions about the arrangements for these. 

Please be assured that DCU is working with the placement providers, and the relevant registration authorities to provide certainty for students as soon as possible. 

We know that you need this information to plan for next year and the outcome of discussions with the relevant bodies is expected shortly.   

We will provide details as soon as they are available.  

In all cases, please consult your Programme Chair for further details.

 

With regard to Teaching and Early Childhood placements, you'll have seen the news about the challenges that schools and educational settings will face in re-starting in September. 

Many students in the Institute of Education and in the Faculty of Science and Health have placements scheduled in those settings for next semester. 

Programme teams have been in regular contact with all the stakeholders, including the Teaching Council, in planning for the year ahead. 

It is clear that placements as originally planned may need to be modified - they may need to happen at a different time in a student's programme, or they may need to have a different form - working in a classroom to support the teacher/tutor, for example, or working with small groups of children who need additional support to catch up after a long period out of school. 

In some programmes, very little modification will be needed; in others, the changes will be more significant.

Our aim is to give all the relevant students specific details of any changed arrangements as soon as they are finalised for each programme.

 

 Exams

Details about assessment timing and format will be available closer to the start of the academic year. We have learned a lot from this year’s exams and taken on board all feedback received in order to deliver a quality student experience around this.

 Student Supports

We are committed to providing you with welfare, academic and practical support throughout this time.

All student welfare supports continue to be offered, albeit remotely via Loop or live chat via Zoom or Google Hangouts/Meet. Students should simply email the relevant service (full list available here ) and a member of staff will get back to them promptly. Counselling is being offered online, and students struggling with finances may be able to get some financial assistance through the Student Assistance Fund. If a student has general enquiries and is not sure whom they need to speak to, a member of staff in the Student Advice Centre can advise them as necessary.