A draft of the Academic Regulations 2019-2020, which has been seen by the University Observer, shows UCD replacing the 2.0 grade cap and introducing an automatic penalty of 0.6 grade points for students repeating a module.

Under the new regulations, students will only be allowed carry a maximum 40 credits per semester, including repeats.

The new grade penalty will see students who achieve an A+ on a repeat module, awarded with a GPA of 3.6. Students who achieve a passing grade of a D- on a repeat module will only be deducted 0.2 grade points, to be awarded a GPA of 2.0. This will ensure that no student drops below a passing GPA for passing the module they repeated. The penalty will be reviewed in 3 years. The cost of repeating a module remains at €230 per module.

The University Observer recently reported that University officials expressed concerns that wealthy students might ‘tactically fail’ in order to get a better grade under the new system. For this reason, the system will be reviewed after three years.

Speaking on the decision to introduce the penalty, UCDSU Graduate Officer Niall Torris said “we welcome the change as this will ensure students are rewarded for getting good grades…the three year review will also offer an opportunity to see if any further changes need to be made.”

Resit exams will still incur the 2.0 GPA cap as they “are now recognised as a separate form of remediation from repeat modules”, according to Torris. The cost of resitting modules also remains at €180 per module in the academic regulations.

In-module resits will also be another form of remediation available to students in the new academic year. This will allow students to resit a failed piece of assessment which they took during the module. The in-module resit will incur a GPA cap of 2.0 and the grade awarded to students will be reduced by 3 letter grades. This means a student who would have been awarded an A+ will receive a B+, however a student awarded a D- will remain at a D-. There will be no cost for seeking an in-module resit.

Other changes to the academic regulations include “feedback on assessment must be provided…no later than twenty working days after the deadline for submission of each piece of assessed work.” This will primarily focus on in-trimester examinations and assignments, such as essays and lab reports. The regulations also state that this does not include work submitted late or “submitted as part of the final assessment component of the module,” meaning it does not apply to capstone projects or theses. Torris states “we have also highlighted that many postgraduate students actually conduct grading in UCD and assessment calendars should be aligned by schools in order to prevent over-burdening these students.”

In the new academic year, students will be granted the opportunity to withdraw from a module before the end of week 12 of the trimester. “No credit is awarded, and a subsequent attempt at that module is treated as a first attempt.” However, the cost of substituting a module will still apply.

In terms of student workload, the regulations state that “a student may not register to more than 40 credits in any trimester. In determining workload, credits from resits and repeats shall be counted by a Governing Board.” This has been coupled with new regulations for maximum credit workloads per academic year & per trimester. According to Torris, these regulations outline that “full-time graduate and undergraduate students will be allowed to take no less than 20 and no more than 40 credits per semester. Students carrying a repeat will only be allowed to carry these into the following year and this will also count towards their workload for that academic year.” Torris believes this change will “reduce the number of students who are being unfairly overburdened by carrying large credit loads and by having to withdraw from modules late into the semester.”

New wording in the document has been included to clearly state the policy on double-checking and verification of grades awarded to students. The regulations also outline a more “streamlined and easier to understand” procedure surrounding professional doctorates to particular programs.

The academic regulations are currently in the draft stages, with approval of approximately six professional doctorates pending. The regulations, which are set to come into effect in the next academic year, will be formally approved at the next academic council meeting on 25th April 2019, according to Torris. “This represents a great improvement as a result of the de-coupling of resits and repeats which was a result of the successful discussions initiated in 2017/2018 by UCDSU…UCDSU has been involved at all levels in drafting these academic regulations, having had representatives on every board committee and working group seeking to make changes to the academic regulations.”