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No Disadvantage Policy ‘Advisory and Not Mandatory’, says UCD School of Law

Despite University College Dublin’s (UCD) and the Students’ Union’s (SU) claim that no students, particularly final year students, would be left disadvantaged by the implications of COVID-19, some students have exited college with below expected grades. One such student, who asked not to be named, spoke to The College Tribune to share his story as a final year law student.

The School of Law have stated that elements of the ‘No Disadvantage Policy’ only acts as a recommendation and is not mandatory. In an email responding to ‘Sam’, the Dean of Law states that “no policy was put in place by the University guaranteeing that a student’s degree classification would not fall below the GPA they had achieved in previous trimesters”. They reject Sam’s claim of a safety net and solely recommend he appeals individual grades.

Sam had achieved a first-class honour in his first three and a half years of college, however, he exits university with a second-class honour. He believes he was left “disadvantaged” by the policy.

Sam thought he had been assured that his degree classification wouldn’t change and that UCD’s policy would act as a safety net. UCD’s policy document recommends, if a student’s grades are out of alignment for Spring Trimester, ‘increasing student module component grades to reflect the GPA calculation from the autumn trimester’. However, it is clear that this policy was not applied to Sam as his grades were not increased to reflect the first class honour he had achieved in autumn trimester. Sam writes, “I was promised a safety net and you took it away after I’d fallen,” in an email to the Dean of Law.

Sam told The College Tribune, “I’m lucky enough that it will have no material effect on me,” as he still has obtained a job for next year, however, he writes “the attitude of the staff and management really got to me”. Sam’s case shows that the university’s policies for COVID-19 were certainly not a resounding success and begs the question – how many students have ended up like ‘Sam’; disadvantaged by the so-called ‘No Disadvantage Policy’?

The College Tribune has contacted the school of Law for a comment, but they have not yet responded.

Adam O’Sullivan, Reporter