College to move ahead with both in-person and online exams

Vice Provost Orla Shiels said that “advice to universities is unlikely to change”

College has provided “clarification” on the plans for Michaelmas Term assessments, but has not pledged to reintroduce mitigation measures or cancel in-person exams.

In an email to all students and staff this afternoon, Vice Provost Orla Shiels outlined the plan for the December and January assessment period. She said that there would be just under 12,700 in-person exam sittings, alongside 17,400 online ones.

“At present the RDS Simmonscourt is timetabled at approx. 60% capacity with a maximum of 1,600 students per session for two sessions per day,” Shiels continued.

She said: “We also want to assure you that we are working on contingency plans in case the public health guidelines change and we are not permitted to deliver in-person exams.”

“However, our information at present suggests the advice to universities is unlikely to change”, the email continued.

“In line with most other universities we still expect to carry out exams using a mix of in-person and online assessments.”

On Wednesday (November 17), Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) called on College to clarify its plans and to reintroduce mitigation measures used last year to minimise pandemic-related disruption to students’ assessments.

These included the right to defer assessments to the supplemental session by choice, and the right of students whose exams would affect their degree grades to re-take any assessment.

The Graduate Students’ Union and campaign group Students4Change jointly called for Trinity to cancel in-person exams altogether.

In the announcement today, Shiels said that College was “closely monitoring public health advice and are in contact with the other universities to explore all options to try to minimise the impact on individual students”.

Shiels added: “We will also be looking at capacity on campus for students who are experiencing problems with WiFi at home and are being asked to do exams online.”

The email did not mention specific plans to reintroduce mitigation measures similar to those used last year.

Last Friday, College said that students who missed assessments would have to defer to the summer supplemental period.

TCDSU Education Officer Bev Genockey called on College to provide “clarification” on the deferred sitting, in the union’s statement published on Wednesday. She said that the August reassessment period “causes significant problems” for many students, such as those applying for international exchanges, summer internships, and postgraduate studies.

Today, Shiels said College will send more details next week on how students “affected by Covid” and unable to take exams “can take those exams quickly later in December or early in the new year.”

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Sophister English Literature and Jewish and Islamic Civilizations Student.