University of Limerick to refund students for campus accommodation

The university previously stated that it would not refund students who had to leave their accommodation early due to Covid-19 concerns.

The University of Limerick (UL) governing body has advised the college to refund students living in campus accomodation, becoming the last of Ireland’s seven universities to indicate that students would be refunded for rent.

To date, UL students have been required to pay full fees for their allocated accommodation, despite many having left their accommodation in March after the closure of Ireland’s schools and colleges due to Covid-19. 

UL was the only university in Ireland to not yet issue pro-rata refunds to students who vacated their student accommodation. Students normally pay up front for accommodation.

Politicians across the country criticised the move by the university. 

Minister for Education Joe McHugh spoke to the Dáil regarding the issue last month. He said that UL had a “moral duty or obligation” to refund students who had to leave their accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Independant Clare TD Michael McNamara raised the subject in the Dáil previously. Speaking today to the Irish Times, he said that he “welcomed” the decision and he will continue to put pressure on privately owned student accommodation providers to offer refunds to students in light of the closure of third level institutions due to the pandemic. 

He added: “When universities and colleges began giving lectures and tutorials remotely, it became clear that students who could do so would leave student accommodation to return home to their families.”

“I contacted UL in early April and was advised that the matter of refunds to student residences was at the time under serious review by the UL governing authority,” he continued. 

He stated: “Today’s decision by the governing body will come as a welcome relief to students and their parents.”

Yesterday, President of UL Dr Des Fitzgerald announced his resignation due to Covid-19 concerns. He handed his letter in to UL Chancellor Mary Harney, and expressed that he believed UL would have a “bright” future.

Earlier in the week, University College Dublin (UCD) said there would be “no compensation” of tuition fees in light of the college’s closure due to Covid-19. This was in response to a petition circling online on behalf of the international students, who pay from €18,000 up to €37,000 for one year’s tuition.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.