Saturday 24 March 2018

End of another year

Another academic cycle draws to a close this week, with the Junior Certificate scheduled to end tomorrow and the final examinations in the Leaving Certificate taking place on Friday.

No exam season runs completely without controversy, and this year's included the number of errors in SEC examination papers, and the reports in social network websites, carried over into the newspapers, of exam cheating.

Anyone involved in print production can understand that errors and misprints will sometimes happen, but it is always possible to reduce these errors with careful checking, which does not seem to have always been the case in this year's exam script preparation. Exam tension is bad enough for many students, without the authorities adding to it in this careless way.

As far as exam cheating is concerned, we all know that cheating has taken place since the beginning of time. It long predates competition for points.

What has surprised this column is the reaction of many commentators to this year's reports of new methods of cheating. In some cases, there seemed to be almost an admiration of the enterprising methods of exam candidates, and a view that since exams are unfair anyway, those who find ways of beating the system are, if not to be commended, at least to be excused. But surely, however enterprising their approaches may be, those who cheat are seeking the most unfair advantage over those who try to behave honourably and who adhere to the rules. Or is that an outdated view? (Discuss!)

Meanwhile, as the end of June approaches, the summer appears to stretch out endlessly before all students. Thousands of students will spend part of their summer holidays attending courses, ranging from trips to Irish college, exchange programmes abroad, learning Spanish in Salamanca, attending art or drama camps, sports camps, or week-long revision courses for incoming sixth year pupils before the school year starts in late August.

In Dublin, the National College of Ireland (NCI)'s Discover University programme runs from tomorrow until June 30.

NCI is partnering with Duke University in North Carolina, USA, to deliver NCI's multi-cultural third-level taster programme.

Forty people aged between 14 and 17 from specifically targeted communities will experience both the academic and social side of college life, with a view to raising their personal and educational aspirations.

By working with others from different backgrounds, they will also develop the skills and attitudes to prepare them for a 21st century multicultural society.

Trinity College Dublin also offers a programme each year for secondary pupils from specific schools, as part of its Trinity Access Programme. UCD hosted an introductory programme, the UCD UniLife Summer School, earlier this month.

Owing to cutbacks in funding, the University of Limerick is not offering its Introduction to University Programme this year pending an operational review.

Meanwhile, all Leaving Certificate candidates will know that exam results are due out on Wednesday August 18, and that CAO college offers will be issued the following Monday, August 23.

In the meantime, we wish them an enjoyable summer.

Irish Independent

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