Irish universities are owed millions by students in unpaid fines and charges. According to a recent report in The Irish Times, the seven universities and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) are owed a total of €1.3 million in unpaid student charges as well €560,000 in unpaid library fines.
Despite being one of the smallest universities in Ireland in terms of student numbers with approximately 12,000 students, Maynooth University is owed the highest amount of money at €450,000 in student charges unpaid by October 2016 and €170,000 in library fines. Other universities that are owed large amounts for the student contribution charge are the University of Limerick at €208,000, Dublin Institute of Technology at €176,000 and Trinity at €110,000. University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland, Galway were unable to provide exact figures on amounts owed.
However, in many cases the payments are owed by a small number of students. 150 students owe €231,000 in University College Cork and 100 students owe €165,000 between them to Dublin City University.
The Irish Universities Association expressed its worry at the situation saying in a statement to The Irish Times: “Given the parlous state of university finances, any issue which exacerbates the situation is of concern.” The findings come at a time of increasing funding problems for Irish universities with the heads of many colleges pointing to the level of fees charged in Ireland in comparison to other countries as a reason why Irish universities are falling in international rankings.
The student contribution charge was first introduced in 1995 at a rate of £150 (€190), but increased over the following years, due to the recent recession and a reduction in third level funding.