Proposals put forward in November 2008 to introduce a credit system whereby students were to be given academic credit for involvement in extra-curricular activities has still not been introduced, despite proposals for it to be implemented for the 2009 academic year.
The proposal was drawn up by Students’ Union President Paul Lynam during his tenure as SU Education Officer in the academic year 2008-9 and was approved by UCD Registrar of Dr Philip Nolan in November of that year.
In November 2008, Dr Nolan accepted the scheme in principle and by March 2009, it seemed set to be introduced. Lynam recalled how: “I left office in June 2009, hoping that there would be a pilot scheme implemented for September 2009.”
The proposal was to substitute time-consuming roles in extra-curricular activities for modules, provided there was proof of the students’ commitment to the role and that the role had a certain academic element. Lynam elaborates: “It wasn’t just for your involvement in a club or society; you had to prove academic merit. It would be a module and it would have to fall under a school.”
Lynam emphasised that students would only qualify for credits if the particular activity they were involved in had academic merit: “You have to have academic merit for what you’re doing; so it’s like a journalism course through The University Observer,” he explained. “It’s the whole point of Horizons. It enhances your overall educational abilities.”
Funding issues, as well as a “lack of continuity within the Students’ Union” have been cited as reasons for the delay. In addition, the idea of creating a central governing authority to organise the modularisation of extra-curricular activities, as opposed to them being tied to a related school, is seen as paramount. Education Vice-President James Williamson explained: “We just want to develop a centre that will take the whole thing completely under its wing, instead of leaving it up to the various schools.”
It is unclear yet when the scheme will be implemented, although Lynam expressed his frustration with the delay, saying that he saw September 2009 as a “realistic” date for its introduction.
Williamson said that the proposal was something he wished to introduce on a personal level, and that it was not just an SU priority, but also one of his own personal priorities.
Williamson is currently working with the Registrar on the scheme and hopes to see significant progress by the end of this semester: “It definitely still is on the agenda. I’m working with the Registrar on it at the minute, and myself and the Registrar have arranged a good few meetings over the next couple of weeks in which we hope to make progress on all of this.” He added: “We should have a lot more progress definitely by Christmas.”