"No Detriment" Policy for University College Cork

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!

The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent measures taken by the government have affected each student at UCC. The university closure has been disruptive to students' study habits, in particular those that are dependent on university facilities such as the library or laboratories. Since the university ceased all in-person operations on March 13th, a large proportion of students 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. 

With online examinations approaching, many students do not have access to the resources they require to achieve the grade they deserve, or to maintain their current grade. Students will now be required to complete assessment in an environment that is not conducive to achieving their true potential. In addition, 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.

In light of UCC repeatedly stating that "no student will be disadvantaged" as a result of alternative measures that are put in place, we, the students of UCC are asking the university to implement a "no detriment" system, in a similar manner to those being deployed across the universities of the United Kingdom, for example Exeter, Southhampton, and Edinburgh. 

At 9.40AM on the 25th of March 2020 the University of Exeter announced that student assessment would be mitigated through a "safety net" policy. The Deputy Vice Chancellor wrote that:

"So long as students would qualify to progress/graduate based on their marks obtained this year ... then the university will ensure that students' final academic year average is the same as, or higher than, the average they have attained up to Sunday 15th March."
"If students achieve higher marks in assessments submitted and examinations undertaken after Sunday 15th March then they will be able to raise your mark for the year."
In summary, "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."

We would urge UCC to consider the impact that these unprecedented measures have on students, both in terms of their academic performance but also the toll it is taking on their mental health during this difficult time. Implementing such a mitigation strategy would ensure that "no student is disadvantaged" and that each student is given an opportunity to live up to their potential.

For further reading on how these policies are being deployed in the UK, see below:


[1] https://thetab.com/uk/exeter/2020/03/25/exeter-uni-implements-no-detriment-policy-for-summer-assessments-47331

[2] https://thetab.com/uk/soton/2020/03/26/sotons-no-detriment-policy-means-your-grades-cant-go-below-your-current-average-83828

[3] https://thetab.com/uk/edinburgh/2020/03/26/breaking-no-remaining-exams-assessments-can-negatively-impact-your-course-grades-for-this-semester-65113

Update 31st March:

On the 31st of March at 21:10, UCC outlined their plan to handle end of semester written examinations. Their plan reads as follows:

"No Academic Disadvantage:
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis. Students who complete their
examinations will have their marks reviewed in the normal way, and all examination
marks will be reviewed in light of these exceptional circumstances.
In addition, the following exceptional measures have been put in place;
1. Students whose personal circumstances have been adversely impacted by
the COVID-19 crisis, may apply to defer their summer online exam. This includes
students who cannot access the hardware\software and internet connectivity
required to complete the online exam.
2. Students who sit a summer online exam but are unhappy with the grade
awarded may choose to resit the exam to improve their grade.
3. Students who fail a summer online exam can re-sit the exam without penalty.
Students wishing to avail of these exceptional measures will be required to complete
a simple online application process, details of which will be made available shortly.
Students who re-sit\repeat a summer online exam will not incur an exam repeat fee."

While a positive first step, this does not go far enough, and still disadvantages students who have had their studies disrupted. The opportunity to sit an uncapped repeat will doubtless be comforting to students. However, this has now widened the gap between those who are disadvantaged and those who are not. Students who have the luxury of a stable internet connection, a good laptop, a quiet home and a safe environment in which to do the exams are now afforded two opportunities to boost their grade, whereas someone without access to these facilities must simply defer. This measure does not assuage the concerns of final year students who have pending offers for jobs or masters that are contingent on their grades. In many cases, repeats are not an option for these students.

I would therefore urge UCC to join the growing number leading universities such as Cambridge, Harvard and Yale in implementing a true mitigation scheme, so that no student is left at a disadvantage