EXAM exemptions for Trinity College Dublin (TCD) students who qualify for Scholars (Schols) are to be abolished by the university in September. The proposal means that all students will now have to sit their summer examinations instead of being granted an exemption if they previously score 60 per cent in their Schols exams.
TCD Students’ Union (TCDSU) Education Officer, Hugh Sullivan, admitted that he was disappointed with the decision but felt that it was the right move due to plans to implement a modularised system, similar to that employed by UCD, next year. “Because the second half of the modules take place after the Schols exams, you can’t be given credit for something you haven’t studied yet and that’s the main reason,” said Mr Sullivan. “[As] you haven’t sat the course yet, you can’t be told you’re exempt from exams.”
This development follows criticism of the Schols system from academic staff who feel that Schols students rarely attend their lectures in the final term and therefore neglected their coursework. “There were concerns from the college that people took the exams just to get exemptions… and weren’t really interested in coming into college anymore,” said Mr Sullivan. “[Now], the whole Schols review system is designed to make the Schols a shorter examination period so there is a cap on the number of hours [spent in exams].”
He revealed that the TCDSU had opposed the proposal when it was first made because of fears that the number of students taking Schols exams will drop but stated that changes will be made to entice students to take the exam. “The university are going to try to incentivise it,” said Mr Sullivan. “They’re giving a diploma certificate that certifies you as a Scholar and the exams themselves will be publicised a bit more accurately to reflect what it is the Scholarship exam are looking for.”
Student reaction to the changes has so far been positive, “in that people are glad the Schols are being standardised and that there is a bit of commonality”, according to Mr Sullivan. However, he stated that students are disappointed in that “there won’t be exemptions, [as] they are one of the main incentives for doing Schols.”
He felt that there was something lost with the abolishment of exemptions but believed that “if the Schols themselves are made to be a more standardised institution and are a bit more difficult, a bit more generalised then I think the Scholars you get will be much more happy with their achievement.”
The Schols exam can be taken by any student who are currently in their second year of undergraduate study. Those who are selected receive benefits for their achievements including having their registration fees paid, free campus accommodation and an annual salary of €253.95.