Thousands of third-level students to receive €250 before Christmas

Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students will be eligible for payment

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris  announced refunds for college students in Budget 2021 to compensate for the shift towards online learning. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris announced refunds for college students in Budget 2021 to compensate for the shift towards online learning. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

Almost 200,000 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students are to receive refunds or credit notes worth up to €250 each before Christmas.

The once-off payments – worth a total €50 million – are aimed at compensating students for the upheaval they have experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the emphasis on online learning this year.

All domestic and EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students will be eligible for this financial assistance.

Under the scheme, students who avail of the Susi grant will receive a €250 top-up in their grant before Christmas.

Students who do not avail of the grant can reduce by €50 any outstanding contribution fee payment or receive a €250 credit note for their institution.

In a number of cases, alternative arrangements will be made for the payment of the monies to students.

The funding is in addition to the €15 million secured for IT supports such as laptops for students who cannot afford them.

The funding, which was provided in Budget 2021, was announced last month by the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, though details of how the funds would be transferred to students have only just been confirmed.

Non-EU students, however, will not be eligible for the payments. Fees for many of these students can rise to €25,000 for international students or €55,000 for medical students from abroad.

Campaign to reduce fees

Hundreds of international students at UCD are campaigning for a 30 per cent cut in their fees due to the lack of on-campus lectures this year.

Almost 500 international students at UCD’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School have signed a petition stating they they gave been “treated as a source of finance, used only to pump money into the economy”.

The cost of the main master’s finance course at the school is just over €18,000 for EU citizens and almost €24,000 for non-EU students.

In addition, more than 70 per cent of graduate entry medicine students at UCD say they are withholding fees in protest over fees and disruption to learning. Their fees stand at €16,290 for Irish students and €55,140 for non-EU students.

In a statement, UCD said it had no plans to provide refunds for courses.

“The costs of delivering UCD programmes have not reduced, the learning outcomes of the programmes will not be diminished and the value of the UCD qualification to the students after graduation will also not be impacted, and so the university will not be rebating tuition fees,” a spokeswoman said.

She said students who have paid for campus accommodation but who decide to go home are rebated their rent on a pro-rata basis.

The spokeswoman added that the university announced that it plans to commence the spring trimester on the assumption that at least Level 3 of the Government restrictions will apply.

However, if the national situation improves, schools will be supported in providing face-to-face on-campus activities where they consider it “educationally appropriate” to do so, subject to health and safety guidelines for students who can avail of it.