University College Dublin (UCD) has no plans to meet the demands of a circling student petition calling for a partial refund of tuition fees in light of the college’s closure due to Covid-19.
In a statement to the Irish Times, UCD said that “no compensation or tuition fee rebates for the changes in delivery are being made”, referencing the shift from in-person to online learning since the closure of schools and colleges around Ireland on March 12.
Currently, UCD’s refund policy allows non-EU students to cancel their place on a programme within 21 days of its commencement and receive a full refund of any money paid ahead of the start date. After the 21 day period, students “will not be eligible for a full refund of fees paid in advance”.
1,128 students have signed a petition calling for fees to be compensated, many of whom are international students paying from €18,000 up to €37,000. 150 students wrote directly to the college to request a refund, which has not been granted.
In a press release issued by University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) on Monday morning, UCDSU International Officer Aadutya Shah said that she started the petition because “the quality of the education students’ were receiving was not what we signed up for” since the move from in-person to online learning.
Drawing on her perspective as an international student, Shah outlined that her degree had been “totally uprooted since UCD closed its campus and I returned to India”.
“There is a major change in the teaching patterns since then, moving from in-class learning to distance learning,” she said. “I am living in a different timezone and I have limited access to resources like high speed connectivity, access to hard copy of books from the library, meeting facilities to brainstorm on group tasks.”
“Many international students have taken out loans to pay the hefty fees that UCD charges and are still paying rent in Dublin. Considering the lesser quality of education we are receiving, we are asking UCD to provide compensation for this.”
UCDSU Graduate Officer and President-elect Conor Anderson urged UCD to “address the concerns these students are expressing”.
“To pay upwards of €30,000 for an educational experience that includes library access, lab access, and practicals, only to be told that, actually, it’s all going to be online learning for the rest of your degree, is a shock,” Anderson said.
“Students understand that this is an unprecedented situation but no one in the world would pay that much for an online course, and no university would charge it,” he continued.