The Covid-19 Assessment Guidelines, or No Detriment Policy, as it was referred to during the summer exam period, will not be continuing into the current semester.
This decision was undertaken as UCD management believe students to have had ample time to prepare for remote learning.
Contrary to how the guidelines were presented to students, with assurances given that GPAs will not suffer due to the last round of end of trimester exams, it came to light in the late summer that this policy was, in fact, a guideline that schools could decide whether or not to advise their staff to adhere to, with some, like the School of Law, choosing to opt-out entirely. Essentially, in contradiction to what the Union and students were told, there was no formal policy, and No Detriment was never assured.
In conversation with the University Observer, UCDSU president, Conor Anderson maintains that both the Union and students were oversold this policy and that because of this the impact of the guidelines is hard to confirm. According to Anderson, UCD Management claims that with the time given for students to get used to online learning, and with 60% of students seeing their grades increase last semester, the guidelines are no longer necessary. However, the announcement of this guideline, as it was presented, gave many students peace of mind.
Since entering lockdown last spring, students have found themselves working from home, excluding those who have to travel to campus for compulsory labs, or who live close enough to campus to avail of the library study spaces. This was something that was widely acknowledged in how it disadvantaged students who suddenly found themselves without workspaces, or in home environments where extended or focused study was not possible. While the impact of the guideline on students in these situations is unknown, many of these students expressed a reduction in stress when it was announced, which is a factor that should not be discounted in how grades, on average, increased in the last exam period.
Anderson does not believe that the rolling back of the guidelines is likely to have a large impact on students, as, in his words, “We’re back to business as usual, but we were kind of already at business as usual”, since it was up to individual lectures whether to follow the guidelines, with many deciding against. However, he disagrees with management that students have had ample adjustment time to online learning.
“They weren’t given time to prepare for online learning,” stated Anderson, as students were being promised face-to-face hours up until the day before the semester started, as well as staff being consistently assured throughout the summer that UCD planned to hold in-person lectures and tutorials across all colleges. “Lots of students are still struggling with it.”
Anderson encourages anyone who finds themselves struggling with remote learning to engage with extenuating circumstances and college supports as soon as possible, as the earlier students engage the more likely they will be to get a favourable outcome and to “Engage with existing policies as much as you possibly can”. He also encourages students to reach out to the SU with any difficulties that they may be facing, so that they can lend their support.