Students allowed to defer exams and essays to May

College has announced a suite of new mitigation measures for exams and assignments

Trinity students who have been “adversely affected by the pandemic” are to be allowed to choose to defer exams or assignments from Michaelmas Term until the end of Hilary Term, College has decided.

College is to allow students to defer assessments as part of a range of measures introduced today with a view to mitigating the impact of Covid-19.

Exams or assignments from Michaelmas Term that are deferred will be examined as a first attempt during the Hilary Term assessment period, which is scheduled for the weeks of May 10 and May 17.

Students have been notified of the measures in an email from the Senior Lecturer and the Vice-Provost this afternoon in the wake of a tightening of Covid-19 restrictions by the government.

“We know that you will have been studying hard in preparation for the exams and strongly encourage all students to sit the exams in this session,” the email said.

“If you are or have been ill or have otherwise been adversely affected by the pandemic you may choose to defer any or all of the upcoming semester one exams or assignments,” 

“You do not have to give a reason for this decision and deferral will be granted to all those who request it.” 

Students will be able to take a second attempt at deferred assessments, if needed, during the reassessment period in August.

Junior Sophister and Senior Sophister students are to be able to apply to re-sit assessments in modules they already passed from either Michaelmas Term or Hilary Term after results are announced.

“Such applications can only be made following the semester two exams and the release of module and overall degree grades to students, following consultation with your Tutor and the head of your discipline or course coordinator.” 

“Re-sits will be scheduled in the reassessment session in August and students will be awarded the higher grade achieved.”

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) said that the move followed “significant discussions between the Education Officer, the Senior Lecturer and Vice Provost this week”.

“The Students’ Union is incredibly grateful for the continued collaboration from the college and in continuing these important supportive measures for students,” the union said.

“All staff have also been encouraged to offer extra office hours this week, to take a sympathetic approach and increased level of flexibility in dealing with cases such as granting reasonable extensions for assignments.”

The assessment period for Michaelmas Term is due to take place in the weeks of January 11 and January 18.

Students have expressed concerns over the Christmas break around supports available while submitting exams or assignments amid the rising incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland.

As of Wednesday, the 14-day national incidence rate of Covid-19 stands at 819.1 cases per 100,000, with over 5,000 new cases confirmed every day this week so far.

The government has now instructed colleges and universities to further limit onsite activity to only the “most essential” work 

The Department of Further and Higher Education said that third level institutions must “restrict onsite attendance further, only allowing the most essential work to take place onsite”.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said that this is a “particularly stressful time for students, many of whom are doing assessments and assignments at the minute”.

The announcement for higher education followed the government’s decision yesterday to close schools and childcare facilities until at least January 31 with the exception of Leaving Certificate students, who will attend schools three days a week.

Special education schools and classes will also be allowed to continue.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Education Norma Foley said that the government would be working towards running the Leaving Certificate exams this year.

“Our Leaving Cert students deserve a chance to sit normal examinations this year,” Marin said.

The Union of Students’ in Ireland urged colleges to support students during the period of tightened restrictions, saying that “no students can be left behind”.

USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick said that “like the rest of the population, students are extremely anxious about the worsening pandemic while trying to finalise important assessments and study for exams”.

“In some instances, students are facing into assessments without access to the library or good internet connections, while others are isolating or restricting their movements due to the pandemic and therefore can’t access vital on-campus services, even if they are open,” she continued. 

Last year, Trinity students campaigned for a no-detriment policy for assessments at the end of the 2019/2020 academic year, which would have meant that if a student received a mark lower than their average but high enough to pass, their average would be maintained.

Trinity’s University Council rejected calls for a no-detriment policy, but approved measures that allowed students to defer assessments until the end of summer and give discretionary powers to the Board of Examiners in considering final year students’ overall performance.

The Board of Examiners’ continues to have discretionary powers to “take the crisis conditions into account in judging a student’s overall performance which was extended to include this assessment session, as exams taken last year during the crisis will contribute to many students’ final degree marks”. 

Exams and modules that were taken during the pandemic are to be noted on students’ transcripts.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.