Trinity’s branch of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has said that mitigation measures for assessment should only be introduced in “exceptional” circumstances and should not continue past the coronavirus crisis.
College said earlier this week that students will be able to defer their exams or essays due as part of the assessment period without providing a reason, and third and fourth years will be able to resit exams if they count towards their final degree mark even if they have achieved a passing mark in the module.
Speaking to The University Times John Walsh, the chair of IFUT’s Trinity branch said: “We see the need for mitigation measures, given that there is a great deal of pressure on students and there’s an increased level of anxiety.”
“We see the need for mitigation measures, particularly for the right to defer”, he said. “The right to request a resit was introduced last year under the principle of no academic disadvantage, and we would hope that it remains exceptional.”
Walsh added that “it’s not clear that students benefit from choosing to take a resit. Obviously it’s a new measure so I understand why it’s being brought back. I think the College’s intention was not to continue with the mitigation measures this year but some of them have been restored because of the scale of the crisis.”
Last November, Trinity’s Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell brought a proposal of no emergency measures for exams to the Undergraduate Studies Committee.
Mitchell told this newspaper that College “will certainly employ a sympathetic approach and increased level of flexibility” for individual cases due to the pandemic.
Walsh said: “Academics within a court of examiners have the right to exercise discretion on borderline marks and that’s another way in certain circumstances that exceptional issues or difficulties can be taken into account.”
“Obviously once the crisis has passed I think those mitigation measures shouldn’t continue, and I think the expectation is that they won’t.”
Exams are due to start next week, but students will be allowed to defer their exams or essays due without providing a reason.
Additionally, third and fourth years will be able to resit exams if they count towards their final degree mark even if they have achieved a passing mark in the module.
In an email to students earlier this week, Vice Provost Jürgen Barkhoff wrote: “We recognise that this is an extremely difficult and stressful situation in which to try and prepare for exams. In recognition of that and of the escalating public health situation, we are reinstating some of the mitigation measures previously approved by Council for exams in 2020.”