Conor Anderson, incoming University College Dublin (UCD) Students’ Union president, informed students that the university is not set to be compensating fees due to Covid-19 crisis. In a post to the Facebook group ‘Students for Fees Compensation’, Anderson outlines the response he received from his meeting with UCD Registrar and Deputy President, Mark Rogers, and Deans regarding the ongoing campaign. Anderson explains: “the University’s stance is that you don’t deserve compensation and they don’t owe it, because all of your educational outcomes are going to be achieved.”
This is the response to the UCD students calling for compensation due to the move to virtual learning. Many students feel as though the move to online learning has significantly disadvantaged their learning outcomes, which has resulted in a petition seeking compensation, reaching over a thousand signatures. Similarly, the group has previously called for an email campaign directed at respective authorities in UCD. The majority of students involved in the campaign are international and graduate students. The fees for these particular groups are significantly higher than domestic undergraduates.
While there is evidently a strong campaign among students, the university does not seem to consider compensation to be a viable option. Anderson explains how the University believes, “[learning] outcomes will be achieved either through online learning or through makeup practicals later in your UCD career (that is, assuming you have any time left! Sorry final year students).”
In his post, Anderson recognises the plight of the final year students, those who may feel they have been particularly impacted by the radical change to online learning. Anderson then continues to explain: “In the edge cases where that isn’t possible, they will work with the accrediting bodies to make sure that you are work-ready.”
The University dispels the argument concerning the inability for online learning to provide a comprehensive University experience. Anderson says: “According to them, UCD does not market a specific “experience;” it markets a degree, which you will be getting. Given what I know of UCD’s marketing strategy, that seems like nonsense, but hey”. Anderson’s comments highlight his own dissatisfaction with the idea that UCD solely advertises a degree, while this sentiment is also echoed in the comments under his post, with other students explaining how they were offered much more than just a degree by UCD.
Anderson admits that institutionally, the campaign for student fees compensation has ground to a halt, commenting: “As far as I can tell, this is the end of the line in terms of seeking an institutional answer. There aren’t any higher bodies for me to appeal.” That is not to say that Anderson has abandoned all hope for the campaign for compensation. Instead, he calls for students to organise themselves, proposing an online town hall meeting to discuss next steps. Anderson’s post ends optimistically as he prompts students towards further action.
The Registrar and University Relations were contacted for a comment on the meeting and to corroborate what Anderson said but The College Tribune received no response by the time of publishing.
Savannah Murray – Reporter