Maynooth Students’ Union statement on the January Examinations
Maynooth Students’ Union share the frustration of final year students of Maynooth University who have on campus exams this month and we continue to hold our position that all semester 1 examinations should take place online to protect the health of students, staff and the wider society.
What have we done?
In April 2021 MSU proposed, and successfully passed, a policy calling for a phased return to on campus examinations at the Union of Students in Ireland’s National Congress. Maynooth Students’ Union stands strongly behind this call.
In August 2021 we published a position paper on the ‘Return to Campus’ in which we took on board the feedback from our members which called on Maynooth University and St. Patrick’s Pontifical University to provide students with the opportunity to avail of an open book option, a virtual option, or gradually reintroduce traditional examinations in a blended sense.
Over the past few weeks MSU has been working closely with Maynooth University during this very difficult and ever-changing environment. During this time an MSU petition seeking support to move exams online received over 4,000 responses from MSU's members. We used this petition to put pressure on the University to move all exams online.
What was the result?
It has come to our attention that our ‘Return to Campus’ position paper helped to inform the Undergraduate Board of St. Patrick’s Pontifical University at the time when they made the decision to move all examinations online.
Subsequently, 95% of Maynooth University exams were moved online.
Why not 100%? 5% of the exams due to take place on campus were for essential reasons that would preserve academic integrity and/or ensure that these courses would meet the requirements set out by accrediting bodies.
While we appreciate the hard work of Maynooth University in attempting to ensure these exams could take place safely and providing deferral options for students in the event that they could not or opted not to come to campus, we still feel these examinations should not be forced to go ahead in person and we will continue to make this clear to Maynooth University. However, In the event that on campus examinations go ahead, we are working hard to ensure that Maynooth Students’ Union stands ready to provide information, support, guidance and our semester 1 ‘DeStress Maynooth’ campaign to students, both in person and online.
A message to the government of Ireland:
Education is a right and that is why the government has prioritized it as an essential activity but it does not trump the right of students to keep themselves and their families safe. When students could be staying at home, doing exams and keeping the transmission rate down this month at a crucial stage in this wave. Instead, they’re being forced to travel from all around the country to sit, in many cases, just one exam and all because some external accreditation body decides or because the government has failed to take appropriate action to update their regulations/advice in this area. Once again in this pandemic, 3rd level students have been an afterthought and it has been left up to individual students and their students’ unions to fight on a case-by-case basis. This further emphasizes the lack of leadership, clarity or unity in the sector which continues to breed confusion, anxiety and unnecessary stress to students of this country.