Most students at the University of Limerick will only be allowed on campus for a quarter of the time when the college reopens in the autumn, according to timetables issued to students today.

While first year students will be allowed to attend for one week in three, it will be one week in four for all other students attending the university.

UL says the timetables apply to the first semester only and have been drawn up in order to comply with current government restrictions on Covid-19.

The college is due to reopen on 28 September.

In a letter to students, it said it wanted to allow as many as possible back on campus while protecting the health of the campus and the wider community.

During the 12 week semester, first year students will spend a total of just four weeks on campus. Others will spend just three out of the 12 weeks at the college.

A spokesperson said the college would have no more than 20% of students on campus at any time. She said the college would operate "social bubbles" made up of the year groups on campus together, and the periods off campus would operate as "circuit breakers" to limit any spread of the virus should it break out at the college.

Even during a student's 'on-campus' week, lectures will be delivered online.

The college says that space constraints make this necessary in order to allow students to socially distance, and there will be face-to-face teaching of up to three hours per 'on campus’ week in each module for laboratory and tutorial work.

The college says that online ‘at home’ learning weeks will resemble regular teaching weeks "as much as possible", but with all content delivered online.

It says plans regarding rental accommodation are still being "ironed out", and while some students may wish to rent accommodation as usual for the full year, it is working on plans to allow for more short-term rental options.

The president of the university's student's union has told RTÉ News of "panic and uncertainty" among students as a result of the news.

However, Cian Quinlan said he believed the step was "necessary, given the limited options".

Mr Quinlan said the students union would favour a 'pay per stay' option for on-campus rental accommodation.

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