‘I don’t see how my [ag science] course could be done online; it would strip most of its value’

Agricultural science students at the Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) have expressed concerns over “uncertainty of what the next academic year will bring”.

The main issue for students entering their final year of the Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) course is the prospect of classes being held online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ag science student

Student Aisling Sheehan said she is considering deferring for a year if there is a chance she will have to study remotely and, due to the practical nature of the course, she does not feel she would get the full learning experience online.

“When Covid restrictions began, we were all out on work placement, so we weren’t on campus. Communication wasn’t great between students and the college…and it still isn’t.

“It’s the uncertainty more than anything of what the next academic year will bring. Even though the college said it probably won’t be happening, other colleges are going partially online and I don’t see how any of my course could be done online; it would strip most of its value.

Many of the students on the course have jobs in agriculture and work on family farms. If there were any changes to the format in which final year is delivered, students would be inclined to continue working long days and then have to come home in the evening to listen to a few hours of lectures and do final year projects.

“I don’t know if I would want to finish the course next year if anything changes with how it is delivered.”

The admissions office in IT Tralee told AgriLand that the college is hopeful to have students back attending classes on the campus in September, with no current plans to move classes online or to delay the start of the semester.

‘This is a very uncertain time for everyone’

However, course lecturer Eoin McCarthy said that, while he hopes to see no delays in the commencement of the next academic year, it is likely that some lectures will be done online – but the uncertainty of whether that is the case or not is soon to end.

“I understand that this is a very uncertain time for everyone and that a definitive decision is wanted by the students,” McCarthy said.

“The campus is currently being assessed and we should know around mid-July whether there will be any classes online.

“It is possible that the majority of lectures will be done online and we will do our best to bring students in each week for practical work, but students’ safety is the most important thing.”

It is expected that students will recommence their studies at IT Tralee on September 21.