Foundation scholarship exams began today for senior fresh students, and are set to run until Friday, 13 January.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Gabi Fullam has called the foundation scholarship “an archaic and futile institution that serves to entrench classism within Trinity”.
Responding to this statement from Fullam, a spokesperson for College said that a periodic review of the scholarship by Faculty Deans is to take place this term, “reflecting the University’s ongoing commitment to evaluate its practices and improve them where necessary”.
Speaking to Trinity News ahead of the exams, Fullam said: “Immense rewards are offered on the basis of a single set of exams in second year.”
Successful candidates receive five years of free fees to the value of the EU fee level, as well as free College accommodation for up to nine months of the year and free meals, known as Commons, throughout the year. The exams may only be taken by senior fresh students except in exceptional circumstances, where students may defer the exams to the following academic year.
Fullam continued: “I am sending good wishes to anyone setting out to undertake such a Trojan task, and I wish them the absolute best of luck.”
“My key piece of advice to anyone sitting these exams is to look after yourself to the best of your ability, and to of course, sit all of the exams if you can.”
“This might sound like a strange or contradictory sentiment, but it is entirely possible to be critical of systems of power, while still wishing luck and sending solidarity to the students who have to work within those systems of power to survive,” she added.
Scholarships, or schols as they are commonly known, are awarded solely based on the foundation scholarship exams which take place this week, with no other factors taken into account. They are unique to Trinity, and according to Senior Lecturer David Shepard, “remains the most prestigious undergraduate award in the country”.
“If you are sitting the exams, please remember that the [students’ union] is here to support you in any ways we can, and if you find yourself struggling, do not hesitate to seek us out,” Fullam said.
Welfare and Equality Officer Chloe Staunton also wished candidates well in the exams: “I want to wish all students the very best of luck in sitting Schols exams. I also want to remind them that the outcome of these exams do not define them, and it is an achievement in itself sitting them.”
She continued: “Exam results do not determine your worth. I urge students to look after their wellbeing during the Schols exam period. There is more to their Trinity experience than Schols, and their journey will not begin or end there.”
Staunton also emphasised that students who were unable to take these exams “should not feel guilty or left out”, saying that “the exam set-up fails to acknowledge the different needs of students at this time of year with work and family commitments”.
“Not every student will have the opportunity to attempt the Schols exams and that needs to be noted.”
Staunton highlighted that there resources which are available to any student seeking support during the week of exams, pointing to the Student Counselling Service’s (SCS) online resources, “including mindfulness videos and an online cognitive behaviour programme”.
“There are emergency appointments available to all students each day – you must ring on the day to enquire about booking one of these.”
Staunton also indicated that students can reach out to her or TCDSU Education Officer Zoe Cummins throughout the week of exams.
Contact information for supports mentioned in this article are listed below:
TCDSU Welfare Officer – [email protected]
TCDSU Education Officer – [email protected]
Student Counselling Service – [email protected] / 01 896 1407
Niteline (9pm-2:30am) – niteline.ie / 1800 793 793
Crisis Text Line – 50808