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Frequently Asked Questions

About Schols…

As a Scholar…

About Schols…

Q. Who are the Scholars?
Trinity College has always had its Scholars, students who are selected on merit and given certain benefits during their time in College. At present Scholarships are awarded in all courses to students showing outstanding achievement in a set of non-compulsory exams that are typically taken in their Senior Freshman year. Benefits include free rooms on campus from October to June, the waiving of fees and registration charges, and the right dine on Commons for free.
Q. What is Commons?
Commons is a three-course meal served each weekday in the Dining Hall on campus. It has been around for centuries, and was originally attended by almost all of the College population where they might meet and discuss ideas. Before and after Commons, one of the Scholars gets up and recites a traditional Grace, in Latin, from memory. Today anyone can go to Commons if they purchase a voucher from the Enquiries Office in Front Square. Fellows and Scholars get their Commons meal for free.
Q. How many Scholars are there?
The number of Scholars varies each year depending on how many are elected, and how many Scholars will reach the end of their tenure (up to five years - see question on how long Scholarship lasts below). Currently there are around 350 Scholars.
Q. How do I become a Scholar?
Put simply, you need to get a first class honour grade in the Scholarship Exams of your chosen course. To sit the exams you must at least be in your Senior Freshman (second) year. Application forms are available in Michaelmas term, on which you detail the courses you are nominating yourself for examination in. The exams are taken in early January, and the results of those elected to Scholarship are announced by the Provost from the steps of the Exam Hall on Trinity Monday (in April; the first Monday of Trinity Term).
Q. When do I take the Schol exams?
The Schol exams take place in early January, before the beginning of Hilary term.
Q. What material is covered by the Schol exams?
The Scholarship exams are not common exams, and are different for each course. The standard of questions is usually higher than for Senior Freshman end-of-year exams, and might require a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of the topic being examined. Depending on the course being studied, the exams can cover anything from the first two years of study, and may even include topics which are not due to be covered in class until Hilary Term of Senior Freshman year. More details are available from the College Calendar, and anyone considering taking the exams should get in contact with their lecturers and/or Director of Teaching & Learning in their School for more information.
Q. I don't feel confident that I'll get Schol. Is there any point in sitting the exams?
Yes there is. The exams are voluntary, so you don't have to sit them, but there is an obvious benefit of taking the exam even if you don't get Schol. Taking them gets you to study harder and earlier in the year than a lot of students normally do - you may well find yourself surprisingly well prepared for your summer exams, even before Trinity term begins.
Q. What are exemptions?
Since the review of Scholarship in 2008, there are no longer any exemptions.
Q. What happens if I fail the Schol exams?
Nothing. The exams are taken voluntarily, and if you withdraw or fail there are no penalties.
Q. Can I view a breakdown of my marks?
The results of the Scholarship examination are available to students through their School, Course Office or Course co-ordinator depending on the set up of their course within the Faculty. A breakdown of the results of each paper can be acquired, as well as a breakdown of each paper, so that students can assess their performance in each question.
Q. Can I take the exams in my third (Junior Sophister) year?
Generally speaking, no. From the 2013/2014 academic year onwards, the Scholarship examination may only be taken by students in the Senior Freshman year, except in exceptional circumstances. These exceptional circumstances include being away on Erasmus in the Senior Freshman year, illness, or personal bereavement.
Q. How long does the Scholarship last?
Generally speaking, your Scholarship can last up to five years from when you get it. According to the Calendar, the 'Foundation scholars hold their scholarships normally either until the end of the June quarter following the date at which they become or might have become masters in arts, or until the end of the June quarter of the fifth year following their election, whichever of these two dates is the earlier, except when permission has been given for a scholar to intermit the tenure'.
Q. What's the difference between Foundation and Non-Foundation Scholars?
The number of Scholars of the House, or Foundation Scholars, is fixed at 70. All the rest of the Scholars are termed Non-Foundation Scholars. In practical terms there is very little difference between them - both classes of Scholar get the same entitlements. The only difference is that Foundation scholars still have the right to vote, alongside the Fellows, on certain changes to the Statutes of the University. In the 1637 Charter, the Body Corporate or governing body of College was established as the Provost, seven Fellows and seventy Scholars. These are the seventy Foundation scholars we talk about today, although Trinity has changed a lot in the meantime and Scholars are not as influential in terms of the control of College as they once were. Over time, as the College population grew, Non-Foundation Scholarships were initiated as a means of awarding Scholarships to those students of merit whom the College did not want to give too much power to, such as Catholic students, women, and students of 'newer' courses that were not the traditional theology, philosophy and classics. Foundation Scholarships are awarded to those students gaining the highest marks in the Scholarship exams, and to enough of them so that the number of Foundation Scholars whose tenure is expiring is balanced and the number remains at seventy.
Q. What are the entitlements of a Scholar?
Scholars of Trinity College are entitled to an annual salary of €254, they are entitled to rooms on Campus for up to nine months of the year free of charge, they are entitled to attend Commons free of charge, and they have their College fees waived. They can put 'Sch.' after their name if they wish. There are rumours of other entitlements, such as being able to graze sheep on the College's grassy areas (and some other interesting privileges), but they are not contained in the current Statutes of the University. They may have been contained in some of the older Statutes and Letters Patent of the College and have been repealed, they may still be there, unrepealed, in Latin so that no one notices, or else someone might just have made them up.

As a Scholar…

Q. How do I sign in for Commons?
In order to attend Commons you must sign in by 15.00 that day (or in advance during any given week). You can sign in online by going here. You can also e-mail enquiries@tcd.ie and ask to be signed in.
Q. How do I apply for rooms?
Continuing Scholars apply for rooms with everybody else, at the end of Hilary term. New Scholars should apply using the special website set up for them in May, details of which are contained in the Scholar's Handbook issued on Trinity Monday. For an electronic copy of the handbook, click here.
Q. Do I get to keep my rooms for the summer?
No, Scholars are only entitled to rooms for nine months of the year, running October to June inclusive. Undergraduate Scholars move out when their exams finish in June, the same as everyone else, but are not required to pay the daily extension charge if staying for exams in June. Scholars in courses such as Medicine and Dentistry who require to take up rooms earlier than others or to stay later are not charged for these extra weeks.
Q. Can I take cash instead of rooms?
Yes you can, but you are only given approximately half the standard rate. An emoluments claim form is sent out in September to Scholars' home addresses, and with this form a Scholar registered in College can claim their salary and can also claim cash in lieu of rooms if they are not taking them. If this form is returned on time payment is made on 20th December for the salary. The payment for cash in lieu of rooms is made in three instalments, in December, March and June.
Q. Can I take cash instead of Commons?
Cash in lieu of Commons is available but only granted in exceptional circumstances. If you are away on Erasmus or have a spouse and children, and so are unlikely to be able attend Commons, cash may be granted. If you just don't think you'll ever go, it may not. Cases are judged individually on their merit. Scholars wishing to claim this benefit must apply in writing (e-mail is fine) to the Junior Dean (junior.dean@tcd.ie) before 1st October.
Q. If I go on a year abroad, what happens?
If the year abroad is part of your course - Erasmus, for example - you are technically registered in College for that year and as such can claim full Scholar's entitlements. The emoluments form is sent to your home address - not your address while you are away - in September and you can claim entitlements in the usual way. If you are taking a year out 'off-books' you cannot claim them. Since Scholarship lasts for up to five years, including years abroad, you may find it helpful to intermit for a year or more while you are away and then you can still return as a Scholar with as many years of Scholarship remaining as you had when you left.
Q. How do I intermit my Scholarship?
The power to grant a Scholar permission to intermit lies with the Senior Lecturer, who then submits your request to Board for approval. If you wish to intermit, and you are an undergraduate student, you should e-mail the Senior Lecturer (student.cases@tcd.ie) before 1st March in the academic year preceeding that which you wish to intermit for, outlining your reasons for doing so. It would be helpful to e-mail your tutor also. You should have a reason (academic, medical or otherwise) for wishing to intermit.
While the deadline for applications to intermit is 1st March, this can be overlooked in the case of new Scholars elected in April or of Scholars who have recently completed their course of study and who wish to intermit for the following academic year. In this case it is advisable to contact the Senior Lecturer and your tutor as soon as is practicable, particularly to avoid confusion when the Scholar's emoluments form is sent out in September by the College's Finance Office, who may not be aware of the Scholar's request to intermit.
Registered postgraduate Scholars follow a similar procedure to intermit, but should contact the Dean of Graduate Studies instead of the Senior Lecturer. Applications for postgraduate Scholars must also be submitted before 1st March.
Q. For how many years can I intermit?
The limit, stated in the calendar of the College, is three years for those with good reasons 'relating directly to the need to obtain professional or other relevant experience in order to properly pursue research'.
Q. When I graduate, what happens?
Firstly, on the day you graduate your name is listed in the programme sheet with 'disc. scol.' in parenthesis after your name. But more importantly:
If you graduate and leave college and have nothing more to do with study or research, you are still entitled to your dining rights in Commons for the rest of your time as a Scholar.
If you undertake an approved course of study or research elsewhere, you are entitled to your dining rights and to your Scholar's salary for your time as a Scholar.
If you undertake an approved course of study or research here in College, you are entitled to keep your full emoluments and privileges for your time as a Scholar. If you are doing a postgraduate degree and are recommended to go elsewhere for up to one year, you can claim full entitlements for that year (as if you are an undergrad on Erasmus), provided you come back to College to continue your studies for at least one year afterwards.
Q. If I do a postgraduate course in College, do I keep my entitlements?
Yes. For your (up to) five years as a Scholar in College you get the full entitlements, including rooms and fees.
Q. Can I apply to do another undergraduate course and keep my entitlements?
Yes. An approved course here in College gets you full entitlements during your time as a Scholar.
Q. Can I get Schols a second time?
No. Sadly, that loophole was closed by the College!