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UCC students threatened with fail grade if they don't show for exam amid coronavirus fears

STUDENTS from a maths module in University College Cork have expressed their frustration at being threatened with a fail grade if they don’t attend a one-hour exam this afternoon.

It’s understood students had tried to either get the exam, which is worth 10% of their module grade, cancelled or changed to an assignment to avoid a crowded environment, given the Covid-19 outbreak in Cork.

However, in an email sent to students, and seen by The Echo this morning, the lecturer of the module said: “There is no direction from HSE Public Health for the University to restrict its activities. Therefore, the test will go ahead as planned.

“The normal rules apply in the sense that if a student is absent, zero marks will be assigned to the test, except if the student hands in a med cert to the School Office stating that on medical grounds the student could not sit the test.

“This includes cases where students have been directed by a doctor to stay home in relation to the virus and the doctor has signed a med cert for that.” 

One student who spoke to The Echo labeled the situation as a disgrace: “Other lecturers in the maths department have moved lectures online and their class tests to assignments to avoid these crowded environments but this is totally unacceptable threatening students with a zero grade if they aren’t comfortable coming in.” 

The student also condemned the lecturer for not taking into consideration that some students could be living with elderly or vulnerable people.

“The exam is only worth 10% towards the final grade and is not worth putting people’s lives at risk over,” the student continued.

It’s understood the exam impacts between 40 and 50 students from two different courses - a fourth year and a master's course - taking the same module.

A spokesperson for UCC said: "UCC advises that there remains no direction from HSE Public Health for the University to restrict its activities. UCC’s emergency management team is meeting on regular basis to ensure its community is protected and prepared.

“Should the advice from the national authorities change, the University will immediately communicate with its students and staff. Currently, the school in question are following the University’s policy, which in the case of COVID-19 considerations, is guided by HSE Public Health.

“There are existing processes in place to ensure that any students who cannot attend an exam due to defined circumstances have an opportunity to resit the exam or take an alternative assignment. UCC understands the concerns of their students during this time and will continue to engage with them to address these concerns.”

However, one of the students due to sit the exam said that the University is contradicting itself.

“The school they are referring to is the school of maths where three of the final year modules have had their class tests changed to assignments and lectures moved online as to avoid close environments.

“The health of students appears to be taken more seriously in some modules than others.”