News

Irish law school apologises for ‘ill-judged’ Twitter response to mental health concerns

By on
29

Maynooth Uni law student questioned decision to schedule land and equity exams the day after each other

📸 Maynooth University (credit: wikimedia – Davechip

An Irish law school has apologised after sending an “ill-judged” tweet to a student who expressed concerns over exam timetabling and the impact it could have on her classmates’ mental health.

Taking to Twitter over the weekend, a law student at Maynooth University in County Kildare, Ireland, voiced her worry at a decision to schedule land and equity exams “the day after each other”. Directing her criticism at Maynooth Law School, the student also questioned whether those responsible for the exam timetable had “considered the mental health” of law students.

The law school responded, stressing it wasn’t responsible for the timetable, before going to reassure the student that her hectic exam schedule “shouldn’t be a problem”, provided she’s not left her revision to the “last minute”.

In the wake of a backlash against its response, the law school deleted the tweet and issued an apology to the student. It said it was “intended to be funny” but was “ill-judged and unthoughtful”. The law school added:

“Crucially, it does not reflect our approach to student support, which we treat with the utmost importance, at all times.”

Responding to the apology, one student wrote: “Absolutely not good enough”, while another commented: “‘It does not reflect our approach to student support’ Wrong. It a pervasive attitude in law that *starts* in universities and continues among law firms. It was actually a revealing moment of truth.”

Last year, research produced by the Junior Lawyer Division (JLD) found that over a quarter of Legal Practice Course (LPC) students (27%) had suffered “severe” or “extreme” levels of stress. The findings — which were based on the responses of nearly 1,000 lawyers, trainees and students — cited “high workload” as the biggest contributor to poor mental health.

Struggling with stress? You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK or 1800 991 801 in Ireland.

Comments on this article are now closed.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

29 Comments

Anonymous

Seems like a reasonable response to me. ❄️❄️

(71)(7)

Anonymous

Having had similar timetable he at Liverpool, I see no problem with the timetable or the response.

I’m gonna go with snowflake ❄️

(17)(5)

Anonymous

If you cannot sit back to back exams then give up, moaner. I remember my entire degree being examined on 8 3-hour papers spread over 10 days.

(52)(6)

Anonymous

I agree.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If she thinks doing two exams in two days is too taxing, she’s gonna have a hell of time once she starts work..

(49)(1)

Anonymous

I doubt it’ll be a problem, as it is unlikely she will get a TC (or however it works in Ireland).

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Land law and equity exams have always been timetabled close. I attended a university in Wales and my contract and tort exams in 2nd year and my land law and equity exams in 3rd year fell on consecutive days (this was 7 years ago!). The point the university made about having studied all year is valid. You shouldn’t just be revising the day before an exam.
I actually took 3 a-level exams all on the same day as well as the same principle applies!

(28)(1)

Baron Jeff.

I thought this was common place?

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Was it She didn’t receive the response she wanted to reschedule exams or other Twitter users jumping to conclusions? Fair point by the university. Taking to twitter if she had genuine concerns rather than emailing the examinations team if it were a mental health issue probably wasn’t the right process to go through. I have a Public Law and contract exam back to back this year, hold on I’ll just tweet to get them rescheduled a month before they start.

(16)(0)

N.C.Trainee

At Oxford your whole law degree is determined by 9 exams in as little as 10 days, max 12. All whole modules, except one, which is a half (other half being an extended essay).

Getting through them is as much a test of physical and mental endurance as academic performance.

Frankly, the Oxford system is ridiculous – the stress is unreal and if you are ill and miss a single exam you have to resist them all the same time next year.

It raises two questions though:

– if that’s what a/the top (in true legal check fashion) Uni requires from its students, complaining about only 2 exams back to back is put into context (vs 6 at Ox (Mon – Sat))

– but, if 2 back to back exams ARE seen as disproportionately harmful to mental health, the Oxford system must amount to something akin to abuse, and require immediate attention.

These questions would require looking at a news story holistically and in light of other factors/evidence, however, which doesn’t seem to be in vogue anymore – unless someone makes the point in a tweet that for some reason or another gets press attention, it probably won’t be considered.

For my part, exams are hard, deal with it. Back to back / same day exams are common at school, where you could be examined on 2 years of work. But Oxford is extreme and needs to lighten up – dream system would be a GPA based on your weekly essays, with a few key exams on top. Would require moderation though, as colleges have different tutors. Doubt there’s resource for that…. a real solution would be to use a GPA and accept that grades won’t be consistent, moving away from grades based education and to something more academic / in depth. Unlikely though.

(23)(2)

Anonymous

Oxford scrapped the 6 exam back to back in a week system two years ago. They are now spread over one and half weeks for the first six and a week for the final 3. Only once or twice now will you get a pair of back to back exams (I had only one pair).

I personally thought it made it harder by drawing things out. The days off were fine in themselves but you got very little work done and moving exams forward cut into your pre-season revision time.

(9)(0)

N.C. trainee

Interesting! And I agree with you entirely – dragging it out but keeping the same number of exams inevitably reduces revision time, makes more of that time more stressful, and you still have the same number of exams to sit!

I would suggest coursework but let’s face it the juris mini option is a joke. A change would need to be wholesale – a totally new approach to assessment / the university academic life.

(7)(0)

N.C. trainee

GPA based on weekly essays would allow students to really go into depth, rather than skimming the surface to make sure they have everything covered for exams (in terms of revision notes). Currently undergrad is just a slug fest (a few very talented students excepted), and it sullies the reputation of Oxbridge.

The reason I mention Ox is that it has the power to drive this change. It would also be in line with its purported values and goals as an institution – deep engagement with academic theory, rather than rote learning cases and theses to get that 2:1 without having a breakdown.

LSE and UCL are so focussed on student employment rates that they’d never move away from the current system. Few other unis have the reputation to carry off a change to GPAs or similar, without it looking like a cost cutting measure / grade inflation / etc.

(3)(1)

N.C. trainee

Interesting! And I agree with you entirely – dragging it out but keeping the same number of exams inevitably reduces revision time, makes more of that time more stressful, and you still have the same number of exams to sit!

I would suggest coursework but let’s face it the juris mini option is a joke. A change would need to be wholesale – a totally new approach to assessment / the university academic life.

(0)(2)

Amused

When they do the the irish equivalent of the LPC, they will crumble because you bet there will be multiple exams, on the same days, with no breaks.

True – its not wholly convenient, but life is an unfair mistress.

(7)(0)

Irish lawyer

In order to secure a training contract and get a place on the Professional Practice Course Part 1, she will need to pass the FE-1 exams. These are actually more difficult than college law exams and they cover 8 core subjects over two weeks (Monday to Friday). Not snowflake friendly – back to back exams are unavoidable if you take all 8 together (although you can space them out over a number of sittings provided you sit 5 and pass 4 in the first sitting):

https://www.lawsociety.ie/Public/Become-a-Solicitor/FE-1-Exam/

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Faith and begorrah, ’tis a fine morning for an exam, an’ that’s the truth.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Wow – no mention of spuds. I admire your restraint.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Feck off.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

I had an two exams and my dissertation deadline on three consecutive days. I never once thought about complaining to my university because I would have recieved the exact response above.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

95% of my degree grade is decided this summer with 9 exams in 16 days, that student needs a reality check.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Ah, try 10 (closed book) exams, morning and afternoon, over 5 days, Mon to Fri. Law Society Finals. Brutal.

LPC-ers (guru notes in hand) make me chuckle….

(3)(0)

Anonymous

trash will always be trash.

Trash = Maynooth, good thing that i did my master at Trinity College

(1)(9)

Anonymous

I think on my GDL was along the lines of 8 exams over 2.5 weeks. It’s the norm.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It never ceases to amuse me how these snowflakes think that every aspect of their life should be an extension of their ‘playtime’. Grow up you divvy and stop moaning about your MH or you can forget ever getting a TC.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Two exams in two days – Surely just get on with it?

How is this person going to cope with the demands of the real world, when they haven’t had the luxury of being able to study something for two, three years before being given three hours to write something pretty about it?

I’m in-house so have the luxury of a slightly less hectic work life, but I’m sure some of my City peers will confirm that two exams in two days is a walk in the park compared to a lot of the work that gets thrown their way.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

At least when the student is in practice, she will be able to tweet clients and explain that she is a bit stressed etc and would they mind if she had an extra week or two to complete the work.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Get on with it

(1)(0)

Anonymous

She’s being precious and they’re being callous. Case dismissed.

(4)(1)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories