University College Dublin Assessment is due to announce in the coming weeks that from September 2013, UCD will be phasing out the practice of passing modules by compensation.

UCD currently allows compensation in the situation where the student has failed with an E grade and has achieved an overall grade point average (GPA) equal to or above 2.0. This applies across almost all modules with the exception of 15 credit modules (such as thesis modules) and a small number of other modules which the School’s Programme Board have deemed non-compensable. Once compensation is abolished, students who achieve lower than a D- grade in any module will have to repeat or resit the module, regardless of their GPA.

UCD Students’ Union Education Officer Shane Comer insists that this change will be made with minimal interruption or confusion caused to students, stating that by phasing it in, “it would have the least effect on students.”
A spokesperson from the University has clarified that no modules or exams sat in 2012/2013 or in previous years will be affected by the change, and any modules that have already been compensated will remain compensated. They stated: “Current students already on a programme in UCD will not be affected by the changes for the most part.”

The phasing process will occur by module level rather than by year groups. From September 2013, modules at level zero, one, four and five will no longer be compensable. Comer says this shouldn’t affect students a large amount as “when you’re doing level fours, you’re usually a final year and you don’t want to fail them at that stage anyway, but say for someone who comes into first year, they won’t know any different.” From September 2014, level two modules will be included, and level three modules will be added in 2015 to complete the phasing process.

While the option of introducing it year group by year group, beginning with first years entering UCD in September 2014, was discussed, it was rejected as it could cause students sitting the same module to be assessed differently. Comer explained: “There could be two students in a module and one can compensate while the other can’t, so that’s why they’re doing it by levels.” He also warned that it could cause some confusion, particularly for those studying a majority of level two and three modules, noting: “Students will need to bare that in mind, that if they’re picking a level one elective, then they can’t compensate it.”

This change comes following “discussion and approval of a set of proposals involving senior management of the University, the Students’ Union, Academic Council and other University governance and working groups,” according to a spokesperson from the University.

Comer stated that this year’s Students’ Union Officers will not be negotiating with the University on this matter, as “the deal was done by the last sabbatical team so we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.” However he feels the impact of the change will be limited by both UCDSU and the University running information campaigns to adequately inform students of the changes in the next number of weeks.

UCD is the first of Ireland’s seven universities to abolish compensation across the board. While University College Cork, Dublin City University, and the National University of Ireland Galway operate a broadly similar system to the present system in UCD, Trinity College Dublin only allows students compensate one module, and in the National University of Ireland Maynooth, students may not compensate their compulsory or core modules, but it is possible to pass a stage by compensation.