Cardiff University
Image credits: Geograph/ Colin Smith

Cardiff University issues apology after lecturer called students “idiots” in Zoom call

Dr Helen McCarthy, biosciences lecturer at Cardiff University, was recorded by the university making disparaging comments about students to colleagues during a Zoom lecture break. 

It followed claims a Covid “safety net” policy of holding exams over 24 hours was being cut to four hours.

Cardiff University has said an investigation is underway and that the comments do not reflect the official view of the university.

According to the BBC, the recording shared on an internal college portal, shows Dr McCarthy saying students had tried to post links to a petition during one of her lectures, calling for more measures to support student assessments during the pandemic.

This comes as university students across the country have expressed increasing dissatisfaction regarding £9250 degrees now predominantly taught online. 

“This is what happens you give them a safety net and all of a sudden you take that away and they’re like ‘oh my God’,” said the lecturer.

She said she had instructed students not to reply to the petition, adding it was “ridiculous.”

What are they doing? Protesting with their absence? Idiots, absolute idiots

–Cardiff University biosciences lecturer, Dr Helen McCarthy

Students had “graduated for hundreds of years” without a safety net policy, she added.

The safety net policy had been introduced with new university guidelines for the academic year of 2020/2021 to “ensure students are not disadvantaged in terms of their achievement” during the coronavirus pandemic.

When her colleague suggested student absences may have been in protest at the changes to examination periods, Dr McCarthy said: “What are they doing? Protesting with their absence? Idiots, absolute idiots.”

A Cardiff University spokesperson said to the BBC: “We are aware of these comments. Such comments do not represent the official view of the university or the school and we apologise for any offence that has been caused.

“We would encourage any student who is experiencing difficulties with their studies to access the support and advice that is available at both school and university level.”

“We are investigating, and it would be inappropriate to comment further until our investigations have concluded.”

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