Friday, January 31, 2020

A MEETING held on Friday last between final year Construction Management and Engineering students and WIT management, including Institute President Willie Donnelly, failed to reach agreement on the delivery of an autumn module that remains outstanding.

Speaking to the Waterford News & Star, final year student Dean Kearns said that he and his fellow classmates remained worried over the integrity of their final award.

This was due to the fact that a Temporary Works Design module, due to be taught in the first semester, has yet to be taught. This resulted in there being no module specific exam to this class being sat prior to Christmas.

“We’re flat out now; we’re busy with our other modules and we’re all working on our dissertations too,” he said.

“So how we’re meant to try and squeeze in three more hours a week of lectures in this semester, which would bring us up to 36 hours a week – if a teacher for this module is found – is beyond me. It’s not a case of us not wanting to do this module – of course we want to do it – but to try and shoehorn this in when we’ve got so much else going on doesn’t feel very fair. We should have had this module in our first semester. We didn’t. That wasn’t the fault of any of us in the class (11 in total).”

A meeting held on Friday broke up on a less than harmonious note, with both sides of the discussions offering diverging views on who said what and how.

A WIT spokesperson admitted: “It was a tense meeting. The President had another commitment that he had to tend to, which limited his time with the students (along with management from the School of Engineering) so he wasn’t in a position to sit in for the whole meeting. However, finding a resolution that will work for everybody remains a priority for the institute.”

The spokesperson added: “Every year, WIT delivers up to 2,000 modules across our portfolio of 100+ programmes. Like all Higher Education Institutions, we manage these within a resource-constrained environment and must operate within budgetary and resource constraints while delivering the agreed learning outcomes to students. WIT typically does this very successfully with (circa) 2,500 graduating each year. In semester one this year, we experienced the unusual situation where we were unable to deliver a module as originally scheduled. This issue arose because of an unprecedented series of events including the unavailability of a lecturer; three separate part-time subject experts committed and subsequently withdrew and departures through retirements and resignations.”

The spokesperson continued: “Our main priority is to ensure that we maintain the academic quality of the students’ award and we continue to work with them to deliver the programme. In relation to third year students, the relevant module was substantially delivered to third years in the first semester. A solution for the outstanding activities will also be devised in consultation.”

A WIT staff member, who spoke to us on Friday, stated: “These students have every right to want to see out their degree programmes properly. They don’t want their award to be in any way cheapened and they shouldn’t be rail-roaded into a solution either.

“This is one of a number of problems that need to be highlighted at the Institute and they need to be sorted out, for the morale of lecturers and students alike.”

Said Dean Kearns: “We’re not going to jump into just any proposal when it comes to getting this sorted out. The module we missed out on may well be integrated into another module but there’s a good bit of talking to be done yet. We want to finish our degrees properly but not in a way that disadvantages us.”

WIT’s Construction Management and Engineering degree prepares students for a range of site-related activities and duties.

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