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GMIT abolishes appeals board that upgraded 8% mark to pass

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Date Published: 17-Mar-2011

By Dara Bradley

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) will abolish an exams appeals board that was being abused by some students in order to have fail marks upgraded to pass, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

Disbanding the Aegrotat Appeals Board forms part of a major shake-up of the institute’s new procedures in relation to the handling of exam cheats, student appeals and improving standards within the college following a series of damaging revelations in this newspaper.

The Aegrotat Board was set up in GMIT in 2006 to review cases of impaired student performance immediately prior to and during exams. For example, if students were ill or suffered family bereavement at the time of exams they could appeal their results to this board.

But lecturers had become increasingly exasperated that students were abusing this review mechanism. In one recent instance, Dr Gay Keaveney, a chemistry lecturer with 32 years experience within GMIT’s School of Science, complained that the Aegrotat Board had upgraded four students’ fail marks (8.5%, 8.5%, 14% and 18.5%) to pass even though the external examiner “agreed that there was nothing in what they had written that would warrant them getting a pass”.

In a statement this week the college said the Academic Council of GMIT has “recommended to the Governing Body that the Aegrotat Board be dissolved”. This recommendation is expected to be ‘rubber-stamped’ by the Governing Body at a meeting on March 31.

The abolishment of the Aegrotat Board means that student representatives will have less influence on whether or not students have their exam marks upgraded on appeal. Students always had two Student Union representatives on the Aegrotat Board but will not be represented on the Examinations Board.

GMIT Students Union Vice-President, Joe O’Connor, said he had no comment to make when contacted by the Galway City Tribune. The Examinations Board is seen by lecturers as a far more democratic way of dealing with reviews.

Another major shift in policy to be introduced is that students will no longer be allowed to progress into the next year of their course without having passed all subjects.

Up to now, bizarrely, there had been cases where students advanced to their third and final years even though they hadn’t passed certain subjects in semesters in their first and second years of study at GMIT. This practice will no longer be allowed.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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