Ruth Cunningham reports from Trinity College on the recent decision of the College Board to cede to pressure from students protesting against a proposed increase in fees
The board of Trinity College have announced that they will not be introducing a €450 fee for supplemental exams in the wake of student protests in the college.
The Student’s Union have reached an agreement with the College Board to return to the previous arrangement that additional fees will not be charged for students sitting supplemental exams due to failure or illness.
The decision will guarantee ‘fee certainty’ to students paying full fees at undergraduate and postgraduate level – meaning the college will not arbitrarily impose additional fees at this time and all students will be given prior notice in regards to how much fees are set to increase during each year of their study.
Trinity College Provost Patrick Prendergast agreed with the arrangements saying: “I look forward to continuing the dialogue with student representatives to find a solution to the issues confronting Irish higher education, taking account of both fairness to all students and the college’s financial position.”
The board have assembled a committee of staff and students to examine potential alternatives to the supplemental fees. This committee will report back in a year’s time with suggestions on how to improve the system for supplemental exams.
Students have praised Trinity SU for their work in the campaign with the SU tweeting in response to the decision: “#TakeBackTrinity has won! Supplemental fees have been scrapped! Students celebrate outside House 1 where the decision by College Board was made”.
— TCD Students' Union 🇵🇸 (@tcdsu) March 28, 2018
Well done to @tcdsu and all those involved with the #TakeBackTrinity campaign, this is fantastic news. A united student movement is a force to be reckoned with and I hope that other institutions are taking note! 👍 https://t.co/Nb3nOu4qnu
— Kieron Pierson (@KieronP91) March 28, 2018
The decision to drop the resit fees follows a period of unrest between the students and College Board. As reported earlier this month by TheCity.ie, a group known as Take Back Trinity occupied the campus Dining Hall and Exam Hall on March 13.
“I look forward to continuing the dialogue with student representatives to find a solution to the issues confronting Irish higher education, taking account of both fairness to all students and the college’s financial position”
Take Back Trinity issued a set of demands including the removal of supplemental fees, the introduction of affordable rental options for the full academic year and an end to the increase in student fees.
During the sit-in, the group of approximately 60 students was barricaded into the dining hall of college by external security services acting on the orders of the College Board.
Laura Beston, Disability Officer and occupier told TheCity.ie that “security made it clear that no food or water would be permitted into the dining hall […] toilet access was also cut off”.
The college spokesperson contested the claims but the response, seen as heavy handed, sparked backlash against Provost Patrick Prendergast. A rally was held in the Front Square marking the end of the occupation of the dining hall.
Hundreds of students attended, as well as People Before Profit TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy, Trinity Senators Ivana Bacik and David Norris, along with Dublin North Central Councilor Gary Gannon. They gathered to protest what they describe as the “commodification of education”.