Trinity rejects “no detriment” policy but approves other measures

The ability for students to defer assessments until the end of summer and discretionary powers granted to the board of examiners are among the measures announced

Trinity’s University Council has approved several measures designed to “ease pressure” on students completing assessments during the coronavirus pandemic, but declined to implement a “no detriment” policy. 

The approved measures include allowing students to defer assessments until the end of the summer and discretionary powers granted to the board of examiners to consider final year students’ overall profile of marks throughout their time at Trinity when marking their work from this term.

For final year students who achieve significantly lower grades on their final modules, examiners will be asked to adjust a student’s overall mark “in a manner they deem justified”.

Students who attempt assessments but find that they are not able to perform as expected will also be able to apply for a deferral until the end of summer, according to the new measures announced today.

Students will also be allowed to progress into the next year having failed some modules in this term, provided they meet the overall pass mark for the year.

Trinity have also said that they will mark on students’ transcripts any modules taken in the time of the Covid-19 crisis which they say “will flag exceptional circumstances to any prospective employers”. 

Students in their junior sophister or senior sophister year may apply to re-sit any second semester assessments in the reassessment session to try and improve results.

These measures, while significant, fall short of the “no detriment” policy called for by many students which would have meant that as long as students receive a passing mark, their overall average grade would not be brought down by upcoming assessments.

The press statement from Trinity announcing these measures, states that Trinity is “aware” of the calls for a no detriment policy but “believes that the measures outlined offer the best way to offset the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, in a manner compatible with its progression and award regulations and assessment practices”.

“These measures are designed to alleviate pressure on students while preserving the integrity of the academic qualifications Trinity students can expect to hold on graduation”, the statement reads.

Speaking on the measures passed by University Council, Kevin Mitchell Trinity’s senior lecturer and dean of undergraduate studies said: “Our goal has been to do all we can to ensure that every student can complete their studies for this year and either graduate or progress to the next year as normal.”

Mitchell stated that Trinity “recognise the unprecedented levels of stress that many students are under and the challenges they will face in completing these assessments to the best of their abilities”, claiming that these measures will  “provide a safety net for students affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”. 

In an email sent to members of the University Council before its meeting today but after these proposals had been circulated to members, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union education officer Niamh McCay said that “the student ask is still not fulfilled” by these measures.

McCay wrote that there is no indication of the “upfront safety net that students are asking for” and “no explicit confirmation that their grade will not be impacted by this crisis”.

An emailing campaign lobbying for a no detriment policy to be implemented was launched by students last week, with the provost confirming that he must have received “200 emails” relating to the policy. Two petitions calling for the implementation of the policy have also circulated among students, with 4,200 and 1,100 signatures.

The no detriment policy is similar to measures taken by several UK universities in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the policy, if a student receives a mark higher than their average from previous assessments before the closure of college their average mark would go up, but if they received a mark lower than their average but high enough to pass, their average would remain the same.

Students received an email last Thursday signed by the senior lecturer and vice-provost informing them that semester two undergraduate assessments will be conducted through a mixture of online and offline exams and assignments.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.