Over 3200 students have signed an open letter to the government calling for all exams to be held online.
The petition was launched by Students4Change’s Chair László Molnárfi and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Gisèle Scanlon.
The letter is addressed to Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
President of the National University of Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU), Róisín Nic Lochlainn, expressed her support on Twitter, urging followers to ‘‘sign and share’’.
The letter asks Ministers Harris and Donnelly to reconsider “the decision to hold in-person exams for [first semester] of 2021-2022” and “protect the lives of those in our College communities”.
It reads: “We consider the way assessments are being currently planned to be held in Irish Universities a health and wellbeing crisis of the utmost urgency which requires immediate action.”
Molnárfi and Scanlon call plans for assessment to be held in person an “emergency situation which will have severely detrimental effects on the wellbeing of all members of our College communities”.
“After 1.5 years of online learning, a sudden return to in-person exams would be catastrophic for the mental health of students”: they continued.
According to the letter, “students are wholly unprepared” for first semester assessments because of the prevalence of online learning in many universities during most of the semester. Of which the pair state “will further worsen the impending mental health crisis” among students.
Molnárfi and Scanlon write that students commuting from outside of Dublin “are disadvantaged”, since they “will have to travel up from their homes in crowded public transport, and spend hours in cramped exam halls with a lot of different people”.
At the time of publication, the letter has over 3200 signatures from students across the country. Trinity News have verified the numbers after consultation with Molnárfi.
Speaking to Trinity News yesterday, Molnárfi said:“Both Gisèle and I think that the reception has been phenomenal across the country”.
“This is undergraduates, postgraduates and staff working together, united for the common good and in solidarity with each other.”