Exam UCard penalties effectively dropped

Photo credit: Alex Floss-Jones[br]ACCORDING to documents obtained by the University Observer, fines collected from students who forget to bring their UCard to exams have dropped to the point where they are nearly non-existent.Students have been warned by multiple sources – whether from the university itself or from the SU – to remember to bring their UCard with them during exams. In the past, it is made clear to students that, during exam sittings, they would be fined €50 if they do not have their UCard.According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the total amount generated from the fines in the academic year 2013/14 was €24,103. In 2014/15, the figure was €23,040. However, by 2015/16, this figure plummeted to just €50 – or the cost of just one single fine.The decision that will likely result in an over €20,000 drop in revenue per annum. The proceeds from the fines have previously gone to the Student Welfare Fund, which will likely see a similar drop. The Welfare Fund is set up to provide student with financial assistance, should their circumstances change during the year.Speaking to UCD Students Union Education Officer Lexi Kilmartin, the Observer was told that the policy is “almost like a dormant policy, in as far as I would probably say that it exists and they've every right to enact that policy but in reality it's not something they've done in the last three exams sittings.”Kilmartin noted that UCD Assessment was puzzled as to why the €50 fine was noted in UCDSU’s Wingin It’ guidebook from the start of semester one. Kilmartin stated that “[Assessment] asked that we don't publish that in next year's handbook because in actual fact, they don't fine people anymore now. They say they do, but it never really transpires.”As for why the change in policy wasn’t publicly stated, Kilmartin is uncertain: “I'm not sure why they made that decision. I'm glad they made it, I think it's a big relief for students. I can also understand why they haven't communicated it to students, to kind of keep the deterrent there.”Kilmartin continued “It's just they didn't want to shout about it to everyone, because then everyone will just go ‘well it's fine if you forget your UCard.”Despite the apparent removal of the fine, Kilmartin still advises caution regarding one’s UCard: “as far as I'm aware… it's still possible that [the fine is] applied so I wouldn't take… the risk.”