Semesterisation under siege; Arts Faculty seeks one year delay

Originally published in Volume I, Issue 7 on 1st February 1995 by Pat Leahy. The plans for semesterisation may have to be postponed. The Faculty of Arts has decided to ask for a deferral of the implementation of semesterisation, and will put this proposal to a full meeting of the Academic Council this Thursday (2nd February). The move comes in tandem with increasing opposition from the student body, and the Students’ Union campaign to postpone the decision for a year to allow for discussion. It was the Academic Council (compose of UCD’s 160 professors) which initially voted to semesterise the College year last May. However, such is the opposition from both the student body and from many sections of the academic community, that it may now forced to reconsider. The move to postpone follows extensive consultation of staff by senior figures in the Faculty. It was known that there was much dissatisfaction with the proposal, and especially with the fact that semesterised examinations were due to start in 12 months time. The University Observer has learned that in the Faculty of Arts, a majority of the 28 Heads of Departments surveyed by the Arts Working Group on Semesterisation thought that the introduction of semesterised exams was neither desirable nor practicable. A slim majority were against the principle of semesterisation itself. Many academics feel that there are too many unresolved questions surroundings the issue to proceed immediately. For example, the Arts Faculty is unsure of whether it can conduct lectures immediately after Christmas, or whether it should wait until the end of the month as the semesterised calendar would dictate. The faculty does not intend to conduct semesterised exams next year. It has also questioned whether the semesterised framework will continue beyond the 1995/96 academic year. Other faculties have also taken action. In Engineering, sources indicate, the Dean has informed the Registrar and the President of the College that the faculty will implement semesterisation as it sees fit. In the Faculty of Law last Monday, Professor Bob Clarke, a member of the all-faculty committee on semesterisation, condemned the College’s “lack of consultation with staff and students” on the issue. “The process [of the introduction of semesterisation] was not handled effectively or efficiently,” he commented. However, when challenged by SU Education Officer Malcolm Byrne to support the Arts Faculty’s call for a deferral, Prof Clarke refused to say how he would vote. The Students’ Union intends to conduct a postal ballot of all academic staff on the matter, as well as the referendum among the student body. It was calling for a deferral of the decision to allow for full consultation with the students. Student anger has continued to make itself apparent. At a meeting last week, Prof Aidan Kelly, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, was faced with an angry crowd in Theatre P. He was subjected to hostile questioning from many sections of a large crowd, while anti-semesterisation speakers were applauded loudly. Societies and clubs have also expressed support for the Union’s campaign.