Undergraduate Entry 4th Year Medicine students to face e-proctoring of exams, while Graduate Entry students will not

Image Credit: Sinéad Mohan

According to an email sent to students by The UCD School of Medicine, which has been seen by The University Observer, Undergraduate Entry Medicine (UEM) and Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) students taking the same exam will face different levels of e-proctoring.

In the email, sent March 16th, Associate Dean of Programmes & Education Innovation, and Director of Clinical Teaching, Suzanne Donnelly explained; “even though you share some modules and assessments [...] Your class is the cohort taking part in the pilot, GEM 2 is not.”

Speaking to The University Observer, UEM 4th year Class Rep Cassandra Herron explained: “While I understand that the week before exams is a very short timeframe for them to do anything about this issue - I believe is was a huge oversight for the school to just choose one class as a pilot scheme - especially since out particular class share the exact same exams in 3 of our 4 modules with the GEM class.

“It is also my understanding that the GEM 2 class are unhappy with the situation as they feel that if the results are too skewed (understandable when both cohorts are held to different standards) that they may be made to resit the exams”.

Speaking to The University Observer, UCDSU President Conor Anderson said: “Leave it to The School of Medicine to come up with a plan of action that seems to be unfair to both the student cohorts involved”.

“As of now we don’t think there is anything to be done so close to exams, as if they were somehow to introduce proctoring for the GEMs that would not be fair, as they would be given a week to prepare, while undergrads had several months. The School of Medicine is piloting an e-proctoring system and Undergraduate Entry Medicine Stage 4 was chosen randomly to be part of that pilot. The UEMs and the GEMs are having the same exams starting next week.

“The undergrads think this is unfair because they have to be proctored and the graduate entry students don’t [...] and the [GEMs] think it is unfair because they’re worried that if they do well they will be penalised, like previous courses were earlier this year”.

“Nobody is really happy with this, I’m not really happy with this, but unfortunately there’s not much to be done. I believe this is only coming to light now because while the undergrads were aware they would be proctored, I believe since January, because the GEM students were not going to be proctored they were not notified one way or the other. Now it has all come to light and both cohorts are unhappy”. 

In her email, Donnelly told students: “Everything about the shared assessments is otherwise identical, including that the Student Code of Conduct for Assessments applies to all students regardless of invigilation arrangements for any exam.

“Marks awarded for these assessments are based solely on how each student performs. How other students score has no bearing on the mark/grade you achieve. There is also no 'competition' or comparison between your class and the GEM2 class. This includes the calculations for Stage awards which are [made] on a cohort i.e. class basis.  Finally, these assessments do not contribute to your degree GPA or degree class rank”. 

Class Rep Herron responded: “The UEM class are very disgruntled with this decision by the school as they feel that although they claim that we won't be compared - it's the same people marking the exams and unconscious bias will most definitely be present.

“I also think it's important to highlight this oversight as it's added a lot [of] undue stress to an already very stressful trimester. While I don't want to attack anyone personally, I think that this reflects poorly on the university as a whole that they could allow this to happen”.

Earlier in the trimester, The School of Medicine also faced backlash over their approach to the proctoring of exams. The school was criticised by students when they withheld grades of 5th Year (4th Med) students who took the ‘Medicine 1’ module MCQ as part of the 2020 Christmas exams. Students temporarily received an ‘Incomplete Assessment’ (IA) grade and were told that they would have to repeat the assessment at the same time as their second trimester exams, as the majority of the class received A Grades, and so the assessment was deemed ‘inaccurate’.

UCD school of medicine have been contacted for comment, and as this is an ongoing story, this article will be updated appropriately.