When Vice-Provost Chris Morash faced members of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) council last Tuesday, he presented what seemed like a reasonable proposal – one that would introduce fees for supplemental exams – and, at least outwardly, quashed the various concerns raised.
After all, the College is facing a deficit and this would be a much better arrangement than in other colleges like UCD. Yes, Trinity has packaged this deal to students as “cost neutral”, inciting a rather subdued student reaction to something that in other years has been vehemently opposed.
But students are naive if they think that similar proposals have not been trotted out before. Indeed, it seems that every three or four years, Trinity rolls out plans for student charges – so systematically it’s almost like they’re hoping there’s been enough of a turnover of undergraduate students that no-one remembers the last time they tried it.
In 2014, a proposal for charges for supplemental exams was mooted alongside commencement fee increases and a charge for the replacement of student cards. After hard resistance from then-TCDSU President Domhnall McGlacken Byrne at the College Board, the charge for repeat exams was scrapped – though not without the other charges in the bundle sliding through.
Of course, this time there are seemingly compelling arguments to approve of this “deal”: the fee would be capped for students who sit a number of repeat exams and students would only pay to repeat the module they failed at supplementals, rather than paying to repeat the whole year. But this is a distraction: students should not countenance the introduction of such hefty charges – especially from a College that is also fervently arguing in favour of tuition fee increases and a government loan scheme.
Given consensus on this issue from TCDSU seems far off, it could very well end up being too late to fend against a charge that would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
College, through the ever-charming Morash, has given students the hard sell, winning their trust that this proposal has been made with their best interests at heart. It is concerning to consider that he could simply be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.