UCD staff and students have voiced their displeasure after it came to the attention of The University Observer that a number of students from the School of Arts and Celtic Studies graduating this year will not be conferred with the same degree title as their CAO course title.
Students who entered UCD with the courses such as History, Politics and International Relations, Geography and Environmental Planning and Economics, Politics and Law are conferred with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, despite their course having had an entirely different CAO code.
The denominated course codes were reportedly taken off the system when the CAO applicants were accepted to UCD and they were placed on the Arts Omnibus.
Students who entered History, Politics and International Relations in 2008 had to have had obtained a minimum of 495 points in the Leaving Certificate in comparison with the 355 required for Arts Omnibus that year.
School of History and Archives lecturer Dr Declan Downey deems it “not fair at all” that students are graduating with a different degree than expected. Dr Downey insists that “there may be perfectly valid reasons why, but I think that it’s up to the student body and the representatives in the Students’ Union to take this matter up with the university authorities, because I think that it is a serious matter, there are contractual obligations here”.
UCD Students’ Union Education Officer, James Williamson, stated that he wished not to comment since he didn’t know “the layout of the course”. However, Williamson said that his understanding of the situation was that students entering the stated denominated courses had the advantage of being guaranteed places on core modules for the entirety of their degree.
Dean of Arts and Celtic Studies, Dr Joseph Brady, said that he was “appalled at any suggestion that there are superior BA degrees and inferior BA degrees, they are all at the same level”.
“The BA degree comes in many flavours but they are all the same degree [and] all of the programmes lead to the same degree – it is as simple as that,” Brady continued. “CAO points reflect demand, not quality.
“BA students follow the same degree structure, they are subject to the same regulations and they get the same degree, regardless of how they enter the degree.”
A UCD graduate who studied History, Politics and International Relations described the situation as “a bit of a let down really, we applied for something and it turned out that it never really existed”. The graduate also expressed their disappointment at not having their CAO course title on their degree transcript.
The number of separate entry paths has been reduced in recent years according to Dr Brady, with the opinion being that separate paths are only for distinctive opportunities, like single subject History or International French or Psychology in particular, where there is a limited amount of places.