DCU replaces exams with alternative assessments due to coronavirus

Sally Madden

All arranged examinations for non-final year students in DCU have been replaced with alternative assessments for this semester, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. 

Assessment arrangements will be revised, meaning that the weighting of module elements already completed may be revised.

All labs and studios will be unavailable to students. All DCU libraries will be closed from 5 pm Friday, March 13. However, the electronic use of library resources will remain available.

Colin Leonard, who is a third-year student of DCU’s school of engineering says he trusts his lectures to handle the situation.

Leonard was meant to have exams next week.

“I had anxiety up until [they announced the cancellation of exams] because I knew that there was a chance they would be cancelled. Now that they have let us know what is happening I trust my lecturers to make up another way to test us whether is continuous assessment or online exams,” he said.

“The prep I did for my exams doesn’t feel wasted because I know I’ll have to use that knowledge somehow,” he added.

Not all students share that mentality.

Final year Economics Politics and Law student Brian Redmond says that while having no exams is in one way a weight off his shoulders, it comes with added anxiety.

“How exactly am I going to be graded? I much prefer exams and I don’t want “alternative methods”,” he said.

The university has also said that they are putting in place arrangements to deal with issues that may arise for Erasmus students that choose to travel home. Similar arrangements are being made for students on external placement, who may not be able to complete their placement due to the spread of the virus.

DCU’s student nurses have been told not to return to placement, with nursing students on Erasmus being pulled from placements abroad.

However, “internship” nursing students have been told that as they are technically considered employees of the health services, they will need to follow their employers’ guidelines.

“If I was an intern I’d be bricking it,” says DCU nursing student Claire Tuite.

“They still have to work and just take advice from the hospitals,” she added.

Furthermore, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has stated that they will end the practice of “prior year contribution,” which means that for first and second years, their results this semester will not affect their final year results.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs has urged all students to rely on Loop for information regarding particular modules. 

Some DCU staff will be expected to attend work during the shut down of all schools, colleges and childcare facilities announced by Leo Varadkar on Thursday, March 12.

An email which was sent by DCU’s Chief Operations Officer, Declan Raftery, to DCU staff on Friday, March 6 said: 

“The University is actively planning for a range of potential scenarios that may involve, for example, in curtailment or suspension of academic activities for a period. Should any of these scenarios materialise, the University will continue to operate and staff will still be expected to attend work.”

The email then urged staff to give the situation some thought, and to plan ahead in terms of what might be needed in order to maintain a level of teaching and learning.

However, once the full suspension of activity was announced on Thursday, March 12, an email was sent to staff stating that DCU would try to continue operation “by facilitating a mixture of remote working and attendance at work.”

“It is hoped that, in so far as possible, staff will attend where necessary, to support this commitment along with other essential services in these challenging times. Where staff are in attendance at work, best practices procedures (social distancing etc.) will be applied,” the email continued.

“Alternatively, if staff can work effectively from home they should immediately inform their line manager to make appropriate arrangements,” it added.

Sally Madden

Image Credit: Alison Clair