The end of each of Trinity’s teaching terms will now include a revision week to avoid the new Christmas exam week coming directly after a teaching week. The change was approved by University Council as part of the latest adjustment to the academic year structure.
Other changes approved last month, following concerns raised by Trinity’s Fellows, include the merging of Freshers’ Week and marking week in the first term for academics, where they mark supplemental examinations, and the reduction of the marking period in the second term from four to three weeks, so as to maintain the number of research weeks for Trinity staff. University Council also voted to explore the possibility of combining the week of scholarship examinations with the marking week ahead of the second semester.
The revision or assessment period in the 12th week of each term will allow for students to have time to prepare for exams and other assessments while also giving leeway for the timetabling of exams should it not be possible to schedule them in the one week.
These new changes, approved on February 8th, will come into effect at the same time as the change to the year structure, which includes a Christmas exam week, approved by the Fellows in February. The Fellows held significant sway over the planned changes under the Trinity Education Project – because a vote from the Fellows is required to change the College statutes, the group effectively held a veto over the proposed reforms.
In an email to students today, the Vice-Provost, Prof Chris Morash, emailed students today to confirm the change, stating: “The new academic year structure contains a degree of flexibility not contained in the earlier version, so individual programmes will need to decide if the current 12th week is designated for revision or for assessment rather than for teaching.”
The changes to the academic year structure were suggested to University Council by Provost Patrick Prendergast following a meeting with Fellows last month, where they voiced concerns about the change to the College Statutes, particularly surrounding the reduction in research weeks academics will have with the extra marking period at Christmas, and the earlier start to the academic year. The change to the College Statutes that would see the removal of the stipulation that says exams normally occur in Trinity Term, and will be implemented in the 2018/19 academic year.
The proposals for the change in academic year structure came after Prendergast and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Education Officer, Dale Whelehan, met with the Fellows to give presentations and to gather their feedback.
Speaking to The University Times, Whelehan praised these alterations: “Before this, there was no opportunity for students to have any revision before the examinations.”
In February, in a vote that could have vetoed the changes, 62 per cent of Fellows were in favour of the new academic year structure, including a Christmas exam week. As it stands, exams cannot be held outside of Trinity Term, in accordance with the college statutes.
These changes are a part of the Trinity Education Project, which is a College-wide reinvention of the way in which Trinity students are taught, prepared and assessed. The project has been met with much criticism and concern from academics, with many resenting the “Americanisation” of the curriculum and the turn towards semesterisation.
In 2009/10, an overwhelming 90 per cent of voting students voted in favour of TCDSU advocating for Christmas exams.
Whelehan expressed some concern about how the new academic year structure will impact incoming students: “With the new academic year structure and CAO deadlines, we’re going to need to really look at our systems as to how they are going to be able to process students because it’s such a shorter period of time now.”