A second examination online survey by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), conducted over 4 days between May 1st and May 5th 2020, has indicated that the majority of students are still in favour of the cancellation of exams. Almost 24,000 final year examination students participated in the survey, where almost 79% of students were in favour of cancellation of exams, and for a predicted grading model to be used. This represents a 20-point shift towards cancellation in comparison to a previous ISSU survey, conducted between March 26th and April 1st. In this survey just 49% of students chose cancellation as a first preference, which increased to 58% when June exams were ruled out.
Just 15% of students were in favour of the current proposal of starting exams on July 29th. The ISSU previously came out against this decision, particularly with the lack of clarity around projects and practicals, issues related to the digital divide, and a lack of welfare support available for students.
The ISSU notes the concerns of these students regarding predicted grades. It is clear that the predicted grading model needs to be developed, but it must ensure fairness and equity. Students were also asked to show how satisfied or dissatisfied they felt on a scale of 1-10 with the 2 main options in the survey; An average of 3.24/10 was recorded for the continuation of the exams. An average of 8.02/10 was noted for cancellation of exams and use of a predicted grade model.
Ciara Fanning, President, provided this comment regarding the survey: “The ISSU is continuing to advocate for and representing the interests of second-level through our involvement in the Department of Education & Skills Advisory meetings which have taken place over the past number of weeks. Student’s are a fundamental stakeholder in this process and we are engaging with other Stakeholders to help to bring much needed clarity to this unprecedented situation. This survey reinforces our mandate for clarification now – particularly as an increasing number of students are now in favour of cancellation and a thoughtful process established to ensure fairness and equity to all. Now is not the time for tradition, we need cohesive innovation amongst all stakeholders – this is not a political issue. We are particularly concerned about the mental health and anxiety issues brought to our attention by students in overwhelming numbers and seek to actively engage with the Department and other stakeholders to work together in unity for more palatable clarity for all and explore all possible contingencies for the class of 2020″.
The survey size represents a sample of almost 39% of all Leaving Certificate students. Students following both the traditional Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied were included in the survey. The ISSU received over 28,000 responses, including those from teachers, parents and students in other school years After these were removed and all results analysed, 23,694 were deemed valid. The ISSU continues to engage with the Department of Education & Skills and other stakeholders to find a solution that will put student welfare and equity at the heart of any final decision. The results of this survey will feed into the organisation’s input at all future meetings, and the ISSU wishes to thank all those who participated and shared the survey.