Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has announced that all lectures, tutorials and practical classes will be delivered remotely for the academic year, as a result of Covid-19.
The education facility has outlined its new “blended learning” approach, which, it says, “places the welfare of our students, staff and communities at the forefront”.
The remote delivery of classes will include live-streaming of lectures and other forms of remote learning platforms, “appropriate to individual modules or programmes”, the guidance states.
Learning activity, such as laboratories, workshops, studio-based activities or those that require special equipment, will occur on-campus but will be subject to appropriate social distancing and PPE.
A student’s level of on or off campus activity will vary depending on the student’s programme, the institute states.
WIT said in the case of public policy or the prevalence of Covid-19 changing, the return to on-campus delivery “may be facilitated on a phased basis” but that remote delivery will continue in all cases to “ensure continued flexibility and choice for learners”.
WIT has advised its students to be “as flexible as possible” in terms of their planning for accommodation, travel and general study arrangements.
The campus library, shop and restaurants will all be open, albeit in a more restricted manner, the institute said, while first year orientation will take place but in a “different way than previous years”.
Students who have booked WIT accommodation and have had a change of mind before signing a contract, will have their deposit refunded to them on request.
He said despite the move to online, the institute is working with the students’ union to look at how they can maintain the college experience, particularly for first year students.
Prof Donnelly said the college is open and they intend to provide internet hotspots for people who may not have access to broadband.
WIT has also committed to taking in more students, but Prof Donnelly added that they are still delivering the labs in person and that will restrict student numbers for those courses.
He added that WIT will be requesting students pay the full registration fee for the year.
“Unfortunately, that’s part of our income and we still have the same costs in terms of staff and in terms of the overhead of running the institutes themselves, so unfortunately it’s not a decision for the institute, it’s a decision for the Government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh has called on the Government to reduce third-level fees by € 500, to reflect the restricted access to campuses and facilities.