Students in universities in South Korea have been told they will receive partial refunds of tuition fees, following the move to online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 40% of universities in the country will partially reimburse students for spring semester tuition – the biggest consensus in any country that Higher Education students should be refunded.
The Korean Council for University Education (KCUE) announced that students from 80 institutions would receive partial reimbursement of their tuition fees, following pressure from students. Konkuk University was the first institution to offer part of the fees back to students when they received complaints of “substandard” online classes. The student council and university officials agreed to continue the scheme of lower fees by offering scholarships in the autumn for students who completed spring semester. This landmark decision led to more institutions in South Korea promising partial refunds or beginning discussions with student bodies around the issue.
With institutions in South Korea and other countries refunding some fees, the focus for Irish students is yet again on their tuition. All classes for much of the spring semester were online and there is still uncertainty about in-person classes for the upcoming autumn semester. In May, the UCD Student’s Union shared their support for a group asking UCD for fee compensation named “Students for Fees Compensation”.
The group, that was started by Indian Engineering Management student Aaditya Shah, is still persisting with their fight for compensation from UCD. The campaign group claims that “online lectures are not that effective” and say that students are missing out with a lack of access to campus and in-person resources. In late May, UCD ruled out compensation for students, stating they had no plans to compensate for the change in delivery of education.
In a statement to The College Tribune, President of UCD Students’ Union (SU), Conor Anderson, clarified the position of the SU in relation to fee refunds: “The Union’s position is that some kind of compensation is owed by the University for the disruption to education, and that said compensation should be financial if possible.” He detailed the response the SU received from UCD: “The University has responded by saying that, because all educational outcomes were achieved […] no compensation is owed”. Conor also stated he sees this “becoming a very pressing issue” in the coming autumn trimester due to the risk of a second wave and continued online delivery.
Ann Jaffray – Reporter