Apr 3, 2020

Trinity Taking No-Detriment Calls ‘Very Seriously’, Vice-Provost Tells Campaigners

Jurgen Barkhoff responded to students who participated in a ‘bombardment campaign’, with an email that greeted them by name.

Donal MacNameeEditor
Alex Connolly for The University Times

Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff has told students that Trinity is taking “very seriously” calls for the implementation of a no-detriment policy in College’s summer assessments.

Earlier today, students began a “bombardment campaign” calling on Trinity to put in place the policy – which would mean students with a passing grade will finish with a final grade that’s either the same or higher than their average so far this year.

The campaign saw droves of students emailing Barkhoff, as well as Provost Patrick Prendergast and Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell, calling for the implementation of the policy.


This afternoon, Barkhoff replied to students who participated in the campaign with an email that greeted them by name.

“Thank you for getting in touch relating to your concerns about exams in the current hugely challenging circumstances”, he wrote, adding: “College officials will bring to the University Council next Wednesday a comprehensive package of measures to address your concerns.”

Amber Davy, one of two Trinity students involved in launching the campaign, told The University Times that the email was not “at all sufficient”.

“It’s not going to change the campaign at all”, she said, adding that “we’re very much going to be continuing as we were”.

“There was no specific guarantees – that’s not good enough, that’s not what we’re looking for.”

The campaign comes after Trinity notified students that both online and offline exams would be taking place instead of formal examination sessions in the RDS.

In an email to students yesterday, Mitchell said: “For some modules, the scheduled final examination will be replaced by an assignment. In other cases, an exam will be set. This will either be in a take-home format that can be completed offline and uploaded by a given time or in a real-time online format, where students will interact continuously with the online platform.”

The previous day, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union president Laura Beston met the provost to discuss the possibility of implementing a no-detriment policy, but Mitchell’s email did not reference this.

The template email reads: “It is undeniable that the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent measures taken by the government have affected each student at Trinity. 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.”

The template also notes that “a safety net for students is an adaptable concept that has been embraced by a multitude of universities, and therefore we believe that there is no reason that Trinity cannot commit to implementing their own version”.

This week, The University Times revealed that the provost, vice-provost and senior lecturer have been given the power to make decisions on summer exams without having to consult College’s decision-making bodies.

College Board and University Council have agreed to delegate their functions to Prendergast, Barkhoff and Mitchell, who will be able to make decisions on matters relating to summer exams – a source of concern for many students – “without having to wait a month for Council or Board to meet”.

In a memorandum, circulated by email to members of University Council and obtained by The University Times, Barkhoff wrote that “urgent action needs to be taken to allow for changes to the exam regulations and practices as documented in the Calendar and course handbooks”.

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