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Trinity provost says university will 'seriously consider' alternatives to resit exam fees after student protest

Earlier, security was called to the dining hall after students took it over and refused to leave.

Updated 10.30pm

THE PROVOST OF Trinity College Dublin has said that the university will “seriously consider” different proposals to introducing supplemental resit exam fees, after students staged a sit in protests at the college.

Students remained in Trinity’s dining hall this evening, and had also occupied the college exam halls, as the protest entered its second day.

Earlier, security was called to the dining hall after students took it over and refused to leave.

Tweeting this evening, Patrick Prendergast – the provost of TCD – said that additional exam fees would be reconsidered at the next university Board meeting.

“Agreed with @tcdsu & @trinityGSU that​ we will seriously consider alternative proposals on supplemental exam fees, modular billing & PG/Non-EU fees at the next Board  meeting, and that Trinity is a university that belongs to all of us who study and work here,” said Prendergast.

The students say that on 23 January 2018, Trinity College proposed supplemental (repeat) exam fees of €200 per exam with a cap of €1000 to Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).

The Union then proposed the motion to the Student Council, and the decision was moved to a Preferendum. Out of a valid poll of 3,504 students, 82% voted strongly against the implementation of Supplemental Fees.

However, the College Board decided to implement supplemental fees at a flat rate of €450.

The protest 

Earlier, the decision to send security to the dining hall, where around 40 students were protesting at the time, was described as “profoundly disappointing” by the Students’ Union President Kevin Keane.

He is one of the students who has been occupying the dining hall since 10am yesterday.

He claimed that security had “locked the building” and also a toilet outside the dining hall. This was echoed by a member of the Take Back Trinity campaign, who also told TheJournal.ie that people were told they could leave but not return to the hall.

However, Trinity denied the claims that students were locked in. In a statement, the college said:

The students are not locked into the Dining Hall.  They can leave at any time they want, and the College is taking all steps to ensure that the students inside are safe.  However, we are not letting anyone else into the building, as there were concerns that large numbers of non-students had been invited into the building through an open call, and this would result in unacceptable risks for all concerned.

14_03_18 5 Source: Take Back Trinity campaign.

Keane described the move as a “clear escalation by Trinity” and said that the security members are not in the dining hall but are in an antechamber.

“The building is closed. They aren’t going to let anyone else in. If anyone leaves they are not able to get [back] in.”

He said that the protesters are “angry and confused”.

14_03_18 4 Inside the building Source: Take Back Trinity campaign

Yesterday, he had a meeting with TCD’s Vice Provost, which he said “seemed to be productive” and which had led to a plan for another meeting tomorrow.

Keane said that the protestors have no plans to leave the hall.

“It’s profoundly disappointing,” he said.

“Trinity talks about partnership and treating students as stakeholders and taking the student voice seriously but as soon as students take matters into their own hands and lead to direct action… Trinity slam down on them.”

In a statement yesterday, the Vice-Provost, Dean of Students and Director of Estates and Facilities said they had a productive meeting with the President of the Students’ Union and President of the Graduate Students’ Union to discuss the supplemental fees issue.

Whilst the College is disappointed with the student protests and occupancy of the Dining Hall today, there was an agreement that further discussions with the Students’ Union executive will take place under the Student Partnership Agreement.
The Vice-Provost will work with the Students’ Union on their proposals which they will bring to the Board of the university.

On Friday 9 March, the students blockaded the college’s Front Arch and shut down the Book of Kells for two hours in protest against the decision. Yesterday, they escalated their actions to an occupation of Trinity’s historic Dining Hall.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: Trinity students occupy building and block entrances in protest against exam resit fees>

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