The UCD Students’ Union has come in for criticism for dismissing concerns over the language barrier from an incoming foreign student with a “you’ll be grand” response earlier today.
The student, Manuel Atserias Luque is from Spain and is set to start in UCD next week, and expressed concern over the language barrier and stated he was worried he would have difficulty understanding his lecturers and classmates.
In a tweet to the Student’s Union Manuel said, “I am quite nervous because my listening is not good. It is different to understand native’s accent from others.”
The UCDSU responded on twitter to Manuel’s concerns stating “you’ll be grand”.
The misjudged tweet continued to add that he should “keep a lookout for our handbook when college starts. It’ll have a guide in it.”
Speaking to the Tribune Manuel said he is “quite nervous” about starting next week, “it will be my first time that I will study abroad” he said.
He outlined that he can speak and write English well, but is afraid he will find it difficult to understand native speakers and the accent when studying. “When a non-native speaks English it is more easy for me. But it is very different when a native person speaks English” he claimed.
The international student is set to study a masters in law, having previously studied in Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.
Grace Williams, former UCD Labour chair and director of the Yes to USI referendum campaign run in UCD last year, criticised the tweet from the Student’s Union account on twitter.
“Ridiculously inappropriate for the SU to tell a concerned student “you’ll be grand” and not fully address the issue. Solid one, lads” Williams tweeted.
The SU could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing this article.
The issue brings to light the precarious situation of many international students who come to UCD to study and find that the adequate supports or language services are absent.
Students coming from abroad who are starting in UCD take part in an International Orientation Week. The schedule for the Orientation Week includes shopping trips to IKEA, movie nights, and campus walking tours, but there is currently no introductory or advice class for students worried about the language barrier during the week.
The Tribune last week revealed comments from the finance department of UCD described the high fees international students pay as a “valuable source” of funding for the college. The comments were made in the 2013 President’s report, which outlines the policies and direction the college has taken at the end of each year.
Therefore the degree to which the college consider the language or additional welfare concerns of international students coming to UCD as significantly as they do the income their high fees generate is questionable.
Jack Power | Editor