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Students' exam fee protest shuts down access to Book of Kells

Trinity students have released a list of demands.

28810989_1651513758248860_1969795560_o Students at the protest in Trinity College Dublin Mary Hartnett Mary Hartnett

STUDENTS AT TRINITY College are protesting plans to implement a fee of €450 for supplementary exams.

They have blocked the front arch at the main entrance to the university and the entrance to the Book of Kells.

On 23 January, Vice-Provost Chris Morash initially proposed supplemental exam fees to Trinity’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) at a cost of €200 per exam, with a cap of €1,000.

Following this, the union proposed the motion to the Student Council, and students were polled. Out of a valid poll of 3,504 students, 82% voted against the implementation of the fees.

Students can take supplementary exams if they were close to passing a subject or if they meet the criteria for special consideration due to unexpected circumstances impacting on their performance during the first exam.

A spokesperson for Trinity College said the change will result in students collectively paying €200,000 per year less to the university for repeating exams, as students who fail the repeats will only have to pay for individual modules that have not been passed rather than for the entire year, which is currently the case.

‘Completely unaffordable’

In a statement, students said the lack of fees for this type of exam was “the only respite in an otherwise completely unaffordable education”.

“Despite this, the college board have decided to ignore the voice of the students, and implement supplemental fees at a flat rate of €450. Trinity’s decision to introduce supplemental exam fees is evidence of their continuing disregard for students, their opinions, and their welfare.”

Citing the cost of accommodation in Dublin and increases in fees for all international and postgraduate students in recent years, the statement said: “Enough is enough.”

Students said the cost of student accommodation has “risen starkly in the past number of years, beyond the means of students”.

Noting that living on-campus can cost up to €240 per week, the statement said some students have been “evicted less than halfway through exam season, unless they can pay the extortionately higher daily and weekly rates to stay past the eviction date”.

The students say they have the following demands:

  • Supplemental exam fees to be scrapped, with a written declaration promising they will never be introduced
  • Affordable rental options for the full academic year to be introduced and offered for all students; rent increases for any and all student accommodation provided by Trinity to be rejected and condemned
  • No more increases to any student fees in any form

“We will escalate our protests until our demands are met,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for TCD said the Board of Trinity decided the new arrangement was fair “as it constituted a reduced and more even distribution of cost among the student body.”

“It also brings the University in line with other universities, which have charged for supplemental assessments for many years,” the spokesperson said.

Students on the Trinity Access Programme or the Higher Education Access Route will be exempt from the new charges, and the university is making a fund available to deal with cases of financial hardship which may arise as a result of the decision.

“Ultimately, this realignment of charges was made to spread the cost of repeating and reassessment more evenly, and was done in the interests of fairness,” the spokesperson said.

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