Trinity Students circulate open letter to Provost condemning TEP

The letter, signed by over 100 students, called the project “catastrophic”

A number of Trinity students have this week circulated an open letter, calling for signatures from students condemning the “catastrophic” implementation of the Trinity Education Project (TEP). The letter has been signed by over 100 students and will be sent to the Irish Times next week.

The condemnation of TEP received over 100 signatures in the first 24 hours, however the creators hope to have amassed over 600 signatures before it is sent to the Irish Times.  

According to the letter, students in Trinity are calling on Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast to “address the adverse effects TEP had on students and engage with student representatives to avoid the persistence of undeniable flaws in your project”.

They went on to add that they believe Prendergast has “catastrophically failed, not only to achieve the goals of the Trinity Education Project but, more significantly, to produce a viable strategy for its implementation. At best, [the] strategy has proved counterproductive.”

The letter attributes blame to the various “scattered strands of Trinity’s administration”, where they believe “communication between faculties is non-existent and layers of bureaucracy complicate even the simplest of changes”. They said that while “some saw this failure as inevitable”, it does not justify it.

The group also addresses the stress felt by students, and also the decline in student society involvement, which they attribute to TEP’s implementation. They concluded the letter by saying that “we ask that you listen to what [the students] are saying and that you buck the trend of recent years to dismiss out of hand the claims and protests of students”.

Speaking to Trinity News, a signatory of the open letter noted that the group found the action necessary as it was something that “shall receive the support of the entire student body”. They also pointed out their independence from other student-led groups, with the initiative being carried out independently of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).

The spokesperson went on to add that she hopes that the letter would “kickstart a discussion about the failings of TEP”. She also wanted to see “some kind of forum where every member of the Trinity community can discuss existing problems and find a solution that works for all”.

The group of students are also critical of TCDSU, commenting to Trinity News: “Although the Students’ Union maintained a presence at the RDS during the recent Christmas exam session, why was there no outcry from student representatives in the weeks prior to the exams? When interviewed during the 2018 presidential campaign, De Rís emphasised his commitment to placing students at the centre of TEP’s implementation. Simultaneously, however, he quipped that ‘nothing is ever going to pass easily’ and thus foregrounded the Student Union’s head-in-the-sand style approach to TEP.”

In a statement to Trinity News, TCDSU President Shane de Rís defended the SU’s approach to TEP: “Many of the issues cited originate locally, as assignment deadlines, essays, and in-class assessments are administered and planned within schools. Semesterisation has been on the SU Policy books for years, with over 90% of students voting in favour of it. Spacing exams over the course of the year, and not having complete degrees hinge on assessing material studied in September in May, is a fairer and more appropriate way of carrying out assessment.”

De Rís continued: “The SU have been engaging with students and the college on these issues tirelessly since July. Entire meetings of the SU Academic Senate, countless hours of meetings, and consultation have been dedicated to discussion of TEP. Rather than having our ‘head-in-the-sand’, we have been constructively engaging to resolve the issues which have arisen. We will be continuing this work and are meeting with College officers this week to discuss the issues raised in the letter.”

This news comes following the introduction of TEP, which saw Christmas exams run at the end of the first term this year. This was the first time Trinity has held exams outside of the summer period, an attempt by College to diversify examination methods across faculties.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is the current Assistant Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister Law student, and a former Deputy News Editor.