The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is offering final-year students the opportunity to sit practical examinations earlier than scheduled due to worries that coronavirus-related quarantines may disrupt the April exam period.
The announcement was made to students during an exam preparation session on Tuesday.
The “Long Case” practical exams in question were originally scheduled to take place at the end of April, while the new dates offered to students run between Saturday March 7 and Friday March 13. A message circulated to students after the announcement said that the rescheduling offer “is a voluntary sign up. If you choose not to sign up – you will be scheduled to take this assessment at the originally scheduled April date”.
The message continued: “however as the COVID-19 situation unfolds, we cannot guarantee this will take place.” It outlined that the decision was taken by senior academic staff in response to fears that access to hospitals by students may be limited in the coming months if the number of cases of the virus in Ireland grows further. Completion of the exams is required for final year students to graduate and take up job offers they may have received.
In an email to the final year class, a Senior Lecturer at the college said “We encourage you to do the Long Case now and will do all we can to support you”.
As well as shortening many students’ study periods by six to seven weeks, the move means that many practical exams will take place before the students in question were scheduled to sit their mock practical exams.
As of Wednesday, issues had arisen whereby some students who wanted to take their exams early were unable to secure a time slot to do so, as the limited number were quickly taken. This was exacerbated by students currently studying abroad being allowed to sign up for the same slots. Senior academic staff promised to meet to discuss the scheduling of additional early exam times.
After the announcement was made, RCSI’s Student Welfare Team circulated information to affected students encouraging them to seek counselling or assistance if required.