Pressure is mounting on UCD management to adopt a “No-Detriment” policy for the remainder of the trimester as thousands of students back calls for academic leniency amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

Earlier this week, UCD student Edie Connors started a petition for a “No-Detriment” policy for exams. The policy, which originated from the University of Exeter in the UK, allows for students to only improve their GPA once their exams are passed.

Connors explained in the petition description that the movement is a result of “students who are now bereft of a suitable working environment, WiFi, laptops, computers and even office equipment. Some students are exposed to toxic living conditions, without proper access to a safe place to do assessment in or exposed to and caring for sick family members.” These conditions have arisen since UCD ceased in-person operations as of March 23rd.

She further states that “Many students will not have adequately prepared due to this disruption in their studies. It goes without saying that many of our students are now at a serious disadvantage and are unlikely to achieve their grades without proper university support.”

The policy is summarised by University of Exeter’s Deputy Vice Chancellor as follows:  “as long as you qualify to pass the year, completing the summer assessments can only help not hinder you because we will not let the extraordinary circumstances in which you are completing these assessments leave you with a mark below your current overall mark.”

The UCD petition started on March 31 currently sits at over 4,700 signatures at the time of writing. Colleges such as Trinity and UCC among others have similar petitions.

UCD Student Union president Joanna Siewierska made a video announcement took to Facebook to announce they will be raising the issue with the UMT and asking them to bring it in. Joanna said in the announcement that “This is affecting the entire UCD student population…we need a more sustainable and clearer answer for students.”

In a staff and student forum in the UCD School of Law, which raised issues surrounding the no-detriment policy, the Dean of Law Imelda Maher responded to the issues by saying “The workload is no different in preparing for exams, the format is changed, it is no greater and that the principle is that no student is to be disadvantaged by the changes imposed on them. In short, standards will be maintained but not raised.”

UCD Student Conor Nolan has since set up a Facebook group in order to organise student involvement with the policy. Almost 2,400 students have joined the group in the space of one day. The group has encouraged Students’ Union Class Reps and other interested students to include their signatures in order to “add more weight to emails” that will be sent to UCD’s Deputy President and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Mark Rogers.

Trinity students began a “bombardment campaign” against senior lecturers and staff in order to push their message across. This resulted in Vice Provost Jurgen Barkhoff telling Trinity students that the college is taking “very seriously” calls for the implementation of a no-detriment policy in College’s summer assessments. This is according to reports from The University Times.

UCD is yet to take a stance on the proposed policy.

More to follow…


Luke Murphy – Reporter

Additional Reporting – Conor Capplis – Editor