UCD is planning to build a specially-designated exam centre on campus within the next five years, according to UCD Students’ Union Education Officer Dannii Curtis.
The exam centre will mean that students will no longer be required to travel to the RDS for end of semester exams.
According to Curtis, the building will likely be a multi-amenity building that may host a full-sized basketball court, something that UCD currently lacks. “The idea is it’d be, say, a massive sports centre and used for different events throughout the year, but then come exam periods it would just be an RDS empty exam hall… They think that it’ll be a multi-amenities building so it won’t just be for exams, and it’ll also bring probably a lot of conferences into UCD just for booking the venue… they’re pushing for having a big basketball arena on campus and it’s something that’ll hopefully be produced over the next five years,” she said.
According to Curtis the idea came about from a committee that was set up by the Registrar, Professor Mark Rogers, and the University Management Team (UMT) for Education to review whether UCD needed to rent the RDS for end of semester exams or whether they could be held on-site. If the plans go ahead, they could mean that UCD would have the facility to hold in-semester repeat examinations and that final year students who have failed an exam in May could repeat or remediate it before their graduation.
Curtis also said that the on-site exam centre could “drive down repeat fees significantly” for students. “They were phasing out compensation and now they’ve fully phased out compensation and done a review, so now UCD are open to having a conversation about their repeat and resit fees, which is really exciting.” Information obtained by the University Observer under the Freedom of Information Act recently revealed that UCD took in €1.8 million in exam repeat fees last year.
UCD SU President Marcus O’Halloran said that he did not think that the new centre would reduce repeat fees. “I honestly would not say that the repeat fees are going to drop when we go about bringing exams on campus,” he said. “If a new hall is built at the end of the Student Centre or Sports Centre that has an exam hall in it, the reality of it is, what that’s going to cost is going to be the same price as 10 or 15, 20 years of the cost of rental. So there’s payments that’ll have to be made and by the time that conversation comes around, with inflation and everything, that’s just not going to be a option. I just don’t see exam repeat fees coming down.”
Conversations are currently ongoing about how to fund the project. “They set up a committee that will be the campus development reviewing plans. It’s just getting it written into the campus development and, like everything in UCD, getting sponsorship for it, so getting different bodies to buy into it,” says Curtis.