Mar 19, 2020

Trinity Cancels In-Person Graduation Ceremonies Set for April

Graduands will instead receive their degrees in absentia, while College hopes to live stream a ceremony led by Chancellor Mary McAleese.

Donal MacNamee and Emer Moreau
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

Physical commencement ceremonies – due to take place in April – have been cancelled, Trinity has announced, with graduations set to be live streamed instead and students conferred with their degrees in absentia.

An email sent to all staff and students, signed by Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell and College Secretary John Coman, said that “public ceremonies are not possible” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. College has contacted graduands set to get their degrees in April to ask their permission to be conferred in absentia.

Trinity’s chancellor, Mary McAleese, will lead the ceremony, which Mitchell and Coman said College hopes to live stream “so that graduands can hear their name being entered into the University record”.


Elsewhere, some of this year’s exams – mostly in subjects with professional accreditation requirements – will have to be carried out in person.

“We are working hard to put in place plans to carry these out or to negotiate an acceptable replacement with accrediting bodies”, Coman and Mitchell wrote.

Last week, College announced that all in-person exams are likely to be scrapped and replaced with alternate forms of online assessment.

In an email sent out to all staff and students, College Secretary John Coman and Acting Director of College Health Service Niamh Farrelly said they understood from Mitchell “that preparations are being made to convert all planned in-person examinations to alternate modes of assessment that can be delivered online”.

The University Times had previously reported that Trinity was considering six contingencies for assessment as a result of the pandemic, including the possibility of holding exams in August.

A confidential memorandum delivered to University Council by Mitchell, seen by this newspaper, said that final exams could also be converted to written assessments, and the designated exam period could be extended.

Some modules could also be redesignated as pass/fail, in a set of contingency options discussed before yesterday’s announcement by the government that colleges across the country are to close until March 29th.

Trinity courted controversy earlier this week by giving international students just 48 hours’ notice to vacate their College accommodation. Students with an Irish address were given 24 hours to leave.

After backlash from students, College softened its stance in a further email, broadening the criteria under which students can remain in their accommodation.

Trinity also backtracked on a directive issued to students living in Kavanagh Court and Binary Hub – privately owned complexes linked to the College – admitting on its website that “in respect of students resident in Kavanagh Court and Binary Hub, we recognise that these properties are not owned or managed by Trinity College but by private providers”.

“Therefore we are not in a position to manage the situation for students residing in Binary Hub or in Kavanagh Court and our email of yesterday should be read as strong advice to return home if that option is available to them rather than a requirement that they do so.”

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