UCD have denied student calls to receive partial refunds on their fees due to course disruption amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement to The Irish Times today, the university outlines “no compensation or tuition fee rebates for the changes in delivery are being made.”
Due to COVID-19 disruptions to education, 1128 UCD students have signed a petition to call on the university to provide compensation for the substantial fees they have paid. Over 80% of the 1128 students who have signed the petition are international and EU students who have paid up to €37,000 in fees.
Over 150 students took part in a letter-writing campaign, writing to the university, in particular to Deputy President and Registrar, Prof. Mark Rogers, requesting compensation but have not been granted any such relief. The letter was signed by three executive members of UCD’s Students’ Union and called for a 30% refund of fees, and noted this figure was a “reasonable starting point for discussions”.
International Student, Aaditya Shah, who set up the petition and a Facebook group focused on the issue, noted that since UCD moved its teaching and learning online “the quality of the education students were receiving was not what we signed up for.” He observed that “many of the international students have taken out loans to pay the hefty fees that UCD charges and are still paying rent” for “lesser quality education”. The movement is primarily supported by such international and graduate students who pay 39% of UCD’s total fee income of €230 million, which is just less than €90 million.
On students paying upwards of €30,000 in tuition fees an educational experience including resources like library access and labs, Conor Anderson, UCD Students’ Union’s Graduate Officer stated that “no one in the world would pay that much for an online course, and no university would charge it.”
Following a meeting of the Governing Authority, Anderson who is also the incoming President of the Students’ Union, said in an online statement that the University’s answer remains no but urged students to continue with sending emails. 30% compensation of non-EU fees works out as almost €27 million. Governing Authority sources have told The College Tribune that UCD have given no indication of pursuing any form of compensation for students.
Manny Choudhry – Reporter
Additional Reporting by Conor Capplis