Colleges and universities finalise 'alternative assessment arrangements'

Third level students will not face tests in physical examination centres, it was confirmed last night.
Colleges and universities finalise 'alternative assessment arrangements'

Third level students will not face tests in physical examination centres, it was confirmed last night.

Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said new arrangements have been put in place to facilitate all the written, oral and practical assessments due over the coming weeks following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

She said universities and colleges have finalised “alternative assessment arrangements”, with options including online exams, written assignments, or rescheduling.

But she insisted standards will be maintained and a “clear pathway to qualification” is still available.

“I would like to wish all students using new ways to undertake exams and assessments in the near future the very best of luck. I am sure that your hard work and perseverance will be fully rewarded,” she said.

It has been agreed while some students will not be able to complete their programme or graduate when they had hoped, as many as possible will graduate this year as planned.

It has also been agreed students who are not able to participate in alternative assessment arrangements will not be penalised — they will have opportunities to complete their studies later.

And the various institutions have also been asked to be aware of the particular needs of students who are more vulnerable, those who contract Covid-19 or are caring for others, students from overseas, work-based learners, students with disabilities, or those with mental health issues.

The details have been communicated to all affected students, the minister said.

“University and college students need clarity on exams and assessments, particularly those in final year, and I would now like to thank all the universities, colleges and institutes of further education that have worked tirelessly over the past number of weeks to ensure alternative arrangements have been put in place,” she said.

“Importantly, I would like to reassure students that even though alternative arrangements have been put in place, standards will be upheld.”

She also thanked the Irish Universities Association, the Technological Higher Education Association, Education and Training Boards Ireland, Aontas, Technological University Dublin, and Quality and Qualifications Ireland and other stakeholders for their work on the new arrangements over recent weeks.

QQI chief executive Pádraig Walsh said he is proud of how the further and higher education and training sector has come together to develop a system-wide, innovative and student-centred response.

“QQI will continue to provide guidance to all our education and training partners with both the immediate and longer-term impact of this current crisis.”

The minister said the new arrangements have support from the Teachers Union of Ireland and student representative bodies such as the Union of Students in Ireland.

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