This is an evolving situation and these FAQs will be updated with any changes that arise.
For further, more specific updates, we ask that you continue to monitor your email and sign up to receive the Dean's Weekly Updates directly in your inbox.
As we approach the end of the 2019/20 academic year, we are conscious that many of our students, their families and their sponsors have questions about how we are planning for 2020/21 and the impact that COVID-19 may have on their course progression.
The health and wellbeing of all our staff and students, as well as that of patients in our hospitals, continues to be RCSI’s number one priority during the COVID-19 crisis. This primary concern is guiding all our decisions as we plan for the next academic year.
RCSI is striving to ensure continuity of engaged learning and academic standards in a safe environment whilst adhering to all public health advice.
Whilst many decisions have yet to be made and some uncertainty remains, planning for the 2020/21 academic year is well underway. It is not in our mutual interest to defer course progression and therefore, the term will commence on time (see Q6) through a blended, digitally-engaged learning model. Our academic leads are working on flexible and adaptable options for our curriculum and assessment methods to ensure they remain responsive to any future scenario.
Please be assured, we have been working hard throughout the current lockdown period to plan for a safe return to Campus for all our staff and students. Six working groups have been formed by the Senior Management Team under the following thematic areas:
- Student health management
- Campus logistics
- Engaged digital learning
- Student engagement
- Student recruitment and induction
Over the summer months all of our students (current and new) will receive regular updates from the Dean and their academic leads for the 2020/21 academic year. These communications will ensure our students can keep abreast of latest developments, public health, travel and academic information.
In the meantime, these FAQs aim to provide the assurances our students seek and will be updated regularly during the summer months. If your question is not answered please submit to email@example.com and it will be directed accordingly.
As you would expect, RCSI is following the official Government guidance and Ireland has recently published a clear roadmap for lifting the lockdown. This is very helpful in terms of our planning to return to teaching on Campus and in our clinical sites for the next academic year.
The Irish Government has set out five phases where they will begin easing the various restrictions on people, work, education and leisure places, from May through to September.
The latest health updates on the status of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland are published by the Department of Health. The national response to lockdown in early March has helped flatten the curve and led to a situation less severe than many other European countries. Whilst the situation is stabilising we continue to take advice from our public health experts.
We are fortunate at RCSI to have our own academics informing some of this guidance to Government and we are also taking their advice to help shape our own plans to deliver the full academic programme across all years for the academic year 2020/21. Among our academics are world experts on virology and epidemiology. We are very lucky in that respect to have such knowledgeable people advising on our plans.
We have set-out an RCSI Reopening Roadmap which started on 18 May with a phased return of lab-based researchers, with priority given to those working on COVID-related projects and other essential research.
RCSI will mirror the Government’s timeframe for lifting the lockdown.
At each phase of the Government’s lifting of the lockdown, it will be assessing the impact and if there’s any indication that the cases of COVID-19 are increasing, the Government will reverse its plans. This will mean, we also have to reverse our plans, as the health and safety of our staff and students remains our paramount concern.
If there is no reversal, then we are planning for a phased opening of campus to staff on 10 August.
All being well, we are planning to have the Campus prepared to welcome our students during September and October.
All being well, RCSI is planning to have the campus prepared to welcome our students during September and October. The start of the academic term will vary by course and programme year.
Dates agreed to date:
- Year 1 Graduate Entry Medicine – 31 August 2020
- Foundation Year – 14 September 2020
- Year 1 Direct Entry Medicine – 5 October 2020
Further dates will be communicated in due course.
Lectures will be delivered using a blended, digitally engaged learning approach. The use of Blackboard and Moodle will continue alongside socially distant class and small group teaching on Campus. Further information will follow from your year lead during summer communications.
As a University wholly-focused on medicine and health sciences, we will lead by example in protecting human health and wellbeing to the highest standards. We are confident that with this guiding principle and with the medical expertise that surrounds us, we are making the right decision to reopen.
We also consider that we have a duty to support our healthcare systems around the world by training the next generation of expert healthcare professionals who can join their workforce at this crucial time for global health.
The requirement for effective social distancing will mean that we will need to bring students back to Campus in stages over that time, but we will be confirming those individual start dates to our students in early June. By then, we will also be able to give an indication of the kind of timetable students can expect in order to provide an engaging teaching schedule while keeping them safe. This will include face-to-face, online and blended learning.
As well as social distancing, we will be ramping up other health and hygiene measures across the Campus, in accommodation and leisure spaces. This will include increased building cleaning and inspection checks, providing hand sanitisers, washing facilities, testing and tracing and PPE provision.
Dedicated teams of staff have been working on these plans and, again, we will be communicating more details of these preparations to both staff and students over the next few weeks and months.
Unfortunately, there is no certainty on how the phased lifting of the lockdown will affect the situation in Ireland. What we can be certain about, however, is that RCSI will endeavour to develop plans to ensure that our students receive the best possible academic programme that can be delivered during this challenging period and that we will keep you informed with regular planning updates in the weeks and months ahead.
Clinical case-based teaching will continue in our clinical and simulated teaching facilities and online. Access to clinical sites will be coordinated at Year level as appropriate and will comply with best practice protocols as advised on each site.
Our clinical teaching experts will ensure that all students are exposed to sufficient clinical knowledge and skills to meet the required learning outcomes. Our objective is to progress or graduate safe, competent practitioners while adhering to current COVID-19 guidelines and prioritising patient, student and staff safety.
As the situation is evolving daily, RCSI recommends that you check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website before making a decision on travel.
Please also consult your airline for further information, as well as the public health advice for the country you are travelling from. It is recommended, where possible and safe, for you to make plans to return to your Irish residence two weeks in advance of course commencement.
This will allow students to comply with Government guidance on self-isolation (see Q12). If travel is strictly not feasible we can create a personal curriculum commencement plan. Our aim is for all students to commence their term on-time regardless of geographic location.
RCSI Travel are available to provide travel advice to returning students. If you have any specific questions on travel please contact RCSI Travel.
The RCSI Student Services team will be in touch with all students in the normal manner regarding student accommodation for 2020/21. If you have any specific questions on accommodation please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ensure you keep safe and well, we will be carrying out thorough deep-cleaning of all our residences prior to the start of term and increasing the levels of cleaning throughout terms time.
The current advice from the Government (which is the baseline for all our procedures to manage COVID-19 risk) is that people entering the Republic of Ireland (except from Northern Ireland) should isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The latest advice is published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and HSE.
It is currently assumed that all students returning from an international location will be required to undertake a period of two weeks' self-isolation. It recommended that students return to their relevant residence two weeks prior to the start of academic term. This way, they can participate in the on-campus and engaged digital learning components of their programme delivery.
Any students who become unwell with suspected COVID-19 upon their return should undertake the precaution of self-isolation. Supports will be made available to all students for the duration of the transitionary period.
If you have any specific questions about your travel or accommodation, please contact the Student Services team.
While teaching may be different next year, with smaller class sizes and some online delivery, we will ensure that the same learning outcomes will be delivered to all of our students. You will still have access to the same expert lecturers and clinicians who have been working creatively to adapt programmes to the new arrangements. And while social distancing will mean that our leisure and social spaces for students will look different and will have to cater for fewer students at a time, we are expecting you to still enjoy an engaging experience on campus.
This means that we won’t be reducing the student fees for the 2020/21 academic term. However, if any student finds themselves in difficult financial circumstances, please contact email@example.com.
Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team has advised anyone who has symptoms to self-isolate for 14 days.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days the following is advised:
- RCSI students will have continued access to GP services of the Mercer Medical Centre. Please visit the website for guidance, contact information and opening hours.
- Alternatively, you should telephone your GP, or emergency department – if this is not possible, telephone 112 or 999; in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms), phone 112 or 999.
- Please don’t go to your GP, surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for COVID-19 (coronavirus), they will arrange a test.
- Isolate yourself from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone and with a phone; please discuss this arrangement with your accommodation provider and follow public health advice in relation to self-isolation within your accommodation. Please contact the RCSI CoMPPAS team to notify them of your situation. The CoMPPAS student welfare team will follow up and check-in with you. As an RCSI student, you can access medical advice by contacting Mercers Medical Centre by calling +353 1 402 2300. If you are staying in RCSI accommodation, please contact Student Services and notify them concerning your need to self-isolate.
Please follow the advice being issued by the HSE (Irish public health service) regarding self-isolation for people who are symptomatic or awaiting test results.
If you have not already done so, you should inform your closest contacts (i.e. housemates and partner) that you are being tested and advise them to ensure that they adhere to strict social distancing protocols. Please also let the RCSI CoMPPAS team know.
You should also inform close contacts (people who you have had more than 15 minutes' face-to-face contact with/have shared a room with for more than two hours in the 48 hours prior to your symptoms developing or since you have developed symptoms) and people who you are aware fall into a vulnerable group.
Please follow the health advice issued to you upon diagnosis. The HSE will begin contact tracing to inform your close contacts and you should provide them with all of the information that they need. To speed up this process, you should consider informing your closest contacts (housemate and partner) of your positive diagnosis and advise them to restrict their movements until they are contacted by the HSE.
You should also inform close contacts (persons who you have had more than 15 minutes' face-to-face contact with/have shared a room with for more than two hours in the 48 hours prior to your symptoms developing or since you have developed symptoms) who you are aware fall into a vulnerable group.
If you have tested positive, please also let our CoMPPAS student welfare team know directly. They can check in with you and if you have concerns they will be able to link you to a range of supports available to you.
You can reach out directly to the RCSI student welfare team for support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RCSI student welfare officers are on hand to support you despite the restrictions imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we can no longer provide face-to-face personal support, we understand students may be anxious at this time and we encourage you to make contact with us. The team can make contact, assess your needs and link you to a wide range of supports available to you, including our counselling and medical services for students.
There are also resources available to you through our CoMPPAS Student Assistance Programme portal.
Our student welfare team in the CoMPPAS Office will be available to support you along with other college services.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health professional will contact you with the positive result. They will also advise you on self-care. Unless assessment at hospital is indicated, the current advice to all patients in a suspected case of COVID-19 is:
Stay at home and self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the start of your symptoms, the last five days of which you should be without fever. Further information is available on the Health Protection Surveillance website.
Household contacts should also restrict their movements for 14 days after the case went into isolation.
If you live in RCSI student accommodation, student services will make arrangements for your catering. Our student welfare team are also available to provide you support and advice in relation to your personal wellbeing.
Our RCSI student GP Service provided through Mercers Medical Centre are is available to provide you with access to clinical services and support.
Any student who feels anxious or stressed during these challenging times, should contact our CoMPPAS student welfare team who are trained to help, or can provide a listening ear. They can also connect you with our wide range of student support services, including our counselling and medical services for students.
All RCSI Library buildings are currently closed while the Campus is shut down. However, the Library team are working remotely and continue to offer library services to staff and students as much as possible. Full information is available on RCSI LibGuides.
We will be reopening the Library in time for next term starting in September, but it is likely that it will operate rather differently as we implement the necessary social distancing measures. This is likely to mean fewer staff and students can use the library at any one time. Study and reading spaces will likely be rearranged to allow for necessary distancing.
However, we will continue to offer the same online services to students that we made available during the lockdown.
Yes. The SARA and CoMPPAS teams continue to work remotely during the closure period and can be contacted as below:
You can also contact or various CoMPPAS teams directly:
- Email Student Welfare
- Email Academic Development
- Email Learning Access and Facilitation (Disability)
- Email Career Development
All RCSI staff continue to work remotely during the period of closure and are available to provide support to all of our students.
All of our CoMPPAS services, welfare, academic support, disability and careers are here to support you. See Q21 for service contact details.
Yes. The RCSI Counselling service continues to be remotely available to students via telephone or video and students can contact this service directly to make an appointment by emailing RCSI Counselling Service or contact the student welfare team for advice on options.
RCSI also provides 24/7 access to telephone and video counselling through the CoMPPAS Student Assistance Programme (CSAP) out of hours and over weekends and holiday periods. Information on how to access this service and all other service can be provided to all students.