Hundreds of University of Limerick students may have received inaccurate exam results that could have impacted their degrees, the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard on January 24th.
The university commissioned an unpublished Deloitte report in 2015, which highlighted the weaknesses in UL’s academic scoring system. The details of this report were released to the Dáil last week and UL President Dr Desmond Fitzgerald faced questions from the PAC on these controversies.
The report detailed the problems with the qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) method the university uses to calculate results that have been in place since 1998. It also showed that a full review of both the system and previous student records will cost UL between €15 million and €20 million.
A whistleblower, who is currently employed at the university, known as “Person G”, expressed their concern to a private session of the PAC. Person G is said to have made numerous attempts to bring attention to the flawed system in place that could have potentially given multiple students understated degree results over the last 20 years.
This was described by Sinn Féin Deputy David Cullinane as “a very serious allegation.”
Fitzgerald was questioned by Cullinane in the Dáil regarding what the university was doing about the concerns raised by Person G.
“When I came into the university, one of the first things I did was to meet with the head of IT to ask about our IT systems. He made me aware of a report that was critical of those systems.”
“At that point, we put an additional amount of money into IT, spending about €2 million in the first year,” Fitzgerald said.
The university is facing further scrutiny due to the revelation that two senior members of staff received top-up pensions totalling €1.2 million.
Final year UL student Kevin O’Donnell said that “the news of UL staff claiming huge expenses shows the darker side to the university”.
“As a fourth-year student, this news is very concerning as I am close to graduating and this has a real potential to affect my results,” he said.
Commenting on Fitzgerald, who became president of UL in May 2017, replacing Don Barry, O’Donnell said that he “is aiming to eradicate these problems”.
“As a student, I have belief that he will succeed,” he said.
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