Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on Irish Universities to implement a ‘No detriment policy’ in the context of the unprecedented disruption of the COVID 19 outbreak.
Speaking today, Deputy Ó Laoghaire said that such a policy was being implemented by numerous institutions to ensure that students are not academically disadvantaged.
“COVID 19 has impacted upon every area of life, and while Universities have to their credit gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure continuity of learning, the reality is that the situation that students find themselves has no comparison with any other academic year.
“The academic disadvantages many face are obvious, but numerous lack access to libraries, laboratories, or face little to no internet access where they are based, as well as a lack of equipment.
“Add to this students who are now juggling studies with having children at home, who may have to cocoon due to medical circumstances, or who may be under severe pressure ensuring that loved ones do not have to go to the shops etc because of cocooning and social distancing.
“We cannot even begin to compare this academic year to others.
“I know many universities across the world are examining models of ‘No Detriment’, for example Southhampton, Edinburgh, and Exeter in Britain. I know petitions have been begun regarding UCC and Trinity and likely other institutions as well, and reassurances have been given by various third level institutions that ‘no student will be disadvantaged’ as a result of alternative measures that are put in place.
“Clearly the environment itself puts many students at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, I believe that this is a sensible policy. The principle being that as long as you qualify to pass the year, completing the summer assessments can only add to the mark, because regardless, it will not be possible to fall below a students current overall mark.
“I would urge Irish Universities to examine and implement this approach which creates a safety net for students for whom studying in the usual way is simply impossible.
“I will also be writing to the IUA and to the Minister for Education to ask that they engage with the various Universities to encourage this model.”