‘We’ve been left high and dry’: Students on college fees and online classes
We asked whether third level institutions should give refunds this year - here’s what you said
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris announced refunds for some college students in Budget 2021 to compensate for the shift towards online learning. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell
Online lectures, empty campuses, socially distanced social events: everything has changed about college this year, it seems, except the cost.
We asked students to share their views on whether students should get refunds. Lots of you responded (see below), especially international students from outside the EU.
They pay fees up to €25,000 for undergraduate courses or €55,000 in the case of medicine. Unlike Irish and EU students, they are not eligible for the €250 refunds announced this week
Many respondents were UCD students, in particular, who are either calling for refunds or in some cases are withholding their fees. In a statement, the university said it will not be offering refunds on the basis that 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”.
Many, however, remain deeply unhappy; here’s how students responded:
I’m currently paying €15K for a masters in UCD Smurfit with all of my lectures being taught online. Furthermore, since I’m based in Kildare I can’t even go up to college due to lockdown restrictions so have access to basically none of the facilities.
I have paid €10,250 (to IT Carlow) and I have come to Ireland to get a good quality of education and now there are no classes on campus and everything is online and the college asked us to be present on the campus to start my masters. Moreover, I am not getting part-time work anywhere and I am sitting at home simply by wasting money in some other country, all the classes are online and most of the classes are pre-recorded, if this is the case: many students have completed their education from their home country with more comfortable way. I need to get a refund from the college, this is my opinion
Michel Banvo, Dublin
I am an international graduate student at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. I came in Ireland to study on campus as the university assured me. But the situation has changed. And I couldn’t be back home with my wife and kids and have the opportunity to save the save the rent I am actually paying. If UCD can’t offer international students on-campus learning, I believe they deserve a substantial reduction on tuition fees.
Brendan O’Brien, Dublin
As an MA student of UCD, I feel that it is ridiculous that the university expects students to pay full fees. The fee of approximately €7,000 is already a hard pill to swallow, and it is even harder to comprehend when you consider that the job market for students in the current economic climate is non-existent. There has been no help given to us by the government, and their recent proclamation that they are giving us €250 is a slap in the face. That €250 might be able to purchase one or two college text books, it is nothing but a band-aid slapped onto gaping wound. Students have been left out to dry during this pandemic and while I do not feel we should receive our university education for free this year (since that is a highly unrealistic desire), we should be receiving a massively discounted registration fee. This pandemic has highlighted that neither the current government or the universities care about this generation of students as they opt to gauge us of our already limited resources and offer crumbs in return.
Liy Yang, Dublin
With distance learning is not easy to make friends! it is not convenient to learn English!! it is also not good to learning!!!
Alannah Norris, Leixlip
We absolutely should get at least a sum of our college fee back this year, the quality of teaching online versus on campus is unspeakable and is certainly not worth €3 grand.
Roxana Godinac, Dublin
I came to Dublin a few months ago because UCD said that at least 75% of classes will be face to face and now I’m stocked here because I already paid a deposit and I have a lease. I would have loved them to just tell us the truth on a reasonable time.
Jitesh Bhatia, Dublin
I am an International student in Dublin and I think we are compromising more than anyone else. We’ve travelled thousands of miles, paid six times more fees than EU nationals & shelling out hundreds of euros per month for rent and living, just to stay inside our houses? We are getting zero international exposure. Our learning experience has been tremendously compromised. I think a fee refund is the least that our university could do for us.
Theo Lopes Garcia, Dublin
We’re trying our best to learn through online classes, but it’s hard to get the same experience without social interaction. The job market will also be much tougher when we come out of this situation. It’s only fair that we are compensated for these issues in line with the support that has been extended to other sectors of society who are also facing difficulties.
Liya Ye, Birr
I do not think this is understandable for us international students paying the full tuition fee, spending huge amount of money frying from another country, quarantine 2 weeks excited about new trimester begin, now UCD announced school is going to be online for the whole trimester and maybe the whole year . No need to say how much money we paud for visa IRP card insurance... After all these things, UCD announced this trimester is going to be online. This is just unacceptable, UCD should announce it earlier. Also studying abroad is not just about studying also about experiencing. Now we cannot do anything but stay at home (which we need to pay big amount of money monthly) I think it is necessary for the school to refund us part of the tuition.
Ravi Parmar, Dublin
Complete semester moved to online. Not able to use University resources. Level of teaching is below average as mostly professor uploads videos and no live lectures.
Preeti Wadhwani, Dublin
I am international student, aspire to build a network worldwide. Hence, I decided to pay the fees in thousands of euros and bear the expenses of staying in the most expensive Dublin city. I feel I am getting only the 20% in return. I have met my classmates only once, for an hour. All the part time opportunities, which would have given me a lot of exposure to the diversity, are not available due to Covid. In my opinion, having these restrictions are very much important for our safety and I abide to it. But, I feel the students should get at least some percentage of fees back, to have some relief to survive till they get a part time job.
I made the choice to study abroad. There was news from the school that we would have in class experience. However, not a single class was taken place at school. I am really disappointed as I could’ve stayed in my home country.
At the end of August, we were still promised to have at least 50% face-to-face classes when i flew over to start my studies. In the weeks to follow the amount of f2f classes reduced to eventually 0% when classes started by end of September. Since then, most of the campus amenities are compromised, clubs closed, sports sessions cancelled and, most importantly, classes online with more people than ever before in the MSc Business Analytics master at UCD Smurfit and even programming tutorials are done in a group with 120 people instead of small groups on-campus of 15-20 people as promised when we decided to study at UCD. So, besides the campus amenities, and false promises in the beginning, also the courses are compromised and therefore it would only be fair to get a huge reduction in our fees.
Browin Thomas, Dublin
I was on an impression that coming to Dublin and interaction with people from different cultures would enhance my learning as I am doing a business course but due to restriction there will be no conventional classes this trimester so we are missing a lot of experiences. If the trimester was online for whole trimester we could have stayed at home for this trimester and saved a lot of money. So we need some compensation to get a relief from this reduced experience.
Jiatong Jiang, Dublin
It is really hard, especially for international student, who live by self and all classes online, no friends, unfamiliar with classmates, English is not very good. Catching class is hard, less team work, no social activities, accommodation fee very expensive. Very hard. Less opportunities for job.
Returning to education to complete a masters degree has been quite difficult as it is difficult to form support networks with other students and gain insight into ideas from others
I have paid for the complete experience which means facilities, exposure to international environment, and study in the class. The college told us that the most lectures would be on-campus, so I decided to join the college -- even in this pandemic. But just a week before the college, they announced that the lectures will be online. This was ridiculous. Moreover, there is no compensation provided by the college even though the operations costs have reduced for them. What we are experiencing is similar to an online course which I could have purchased for euro100 or so. I believe it’s a just a marketing strategy used by colleges this year so they can fill their pockets.
Jivesh Taneja, Dublin
The college experience this year has nothing been a regular year. From moving everything to online including classes, group projects, social clubs and class discussion. Over the top with this virtual teaching, the most suffered are the international students who were guaranteed to have real on campus experience but were shifted to online teaching after arriving at the campus. With the exorbitant living expenses, no student jobs options and below standard college experience, it’s been difficult for a student to cope up with mental and physical pressure. I believe that the fee refund and financial support should be provided to students who have travelled across countries just to sit in their rooms and study.
Let UCD refund tuition fees, I paid for whole Same tuition fees like past students, but we can’t enjoy university facility, we also suffer highest renting house fee
We’ve relocated to another country to get the kind of education we don’t get in our country. Even through the pandemic and its difficulties we were told we would have in campus classes and somehow managed through everything. It is really upsetting that the situation has gotten worse in Ireland, but that is something not under anyone’s control. All we’re asking is that either we get a weekly compensation or a reduction in fees. Most of us were planning on getting part time jobs and pay our rent. But that’s out and it’s becoming difficult to manage our financials.
Rohit Dalvi, Dublin
I am a graduate student studying at UCD. While coming to Ireland there were not many active cases. The reason why I took decision to take the course. But after paying a huge amount of fees it was expected to be blended mode of teaching. Unfortunately due to lack of social distancing by people here the covid cases have risen. Lock down level 5 has been implemented due to which the whole city would be closed. Hence we request you to kindly consider our request for refund. Thanks and regards
Murrough Murnaghan, Dublin
I have undertaken a masters that markets a large part of its value in networking and the professional relationships gained throughout the year. Now trips to company offices and a crucial site visit to France are most likely out of the question. Not only has the value of the masters dropped significantly but the means to pay for it are now severely limited as part-time jobs are unavailable. I am not sure if I will graduate this year and the sole reason is financing.
Eva Kane, Dublin
Doing a Masters...already very expensive but now it’s ridiculous since I have only been on campus for one day during induction. Everything is online, lots of others in my course are international students who are paying high rent fees and living expenses on top of higher college fees and all they can do is sit in their accommodation on a laptop since everything is closed. Many have already spent more money to leave Ireland seeing as it won’t make a difference to their studies now. Lack of appropriate study/work area at home, an old laptop that isn’t great, group work having to be coordinated on zoom, lack of finances due to the loss of work. If Third level students received €250 from €3,000 fees, then I would expect to receive some amount of fee reduction or reimbursement too.
Komal Dundappa, Dublin 18
Since classes are online, we are missing on a lot of part. They should reduce our fees, we haven’t even recieved open, due to covid. It is difficult to take care of monthly expense too
I have travelled thousands of km on the promise of having on-campus education. And right now I have only been once at campus to pick up my student card, attending everything online.
Eppie Boyden, Dublin
I’m paying 14k to do a masters at home for one year. No networking, no one-on-one lessons, my lectures will never know what I look like.
Gemma Fluvia, Meath
I came to Ireland from Spain looking for what I expected to be my best college year. Now, I’m in a house, doing online teaching and I can’t even go back to Spain because I have some lab classes from time to time, which are only 2 hours per week.
Anjaly Suresh George, Co Dublin
Expecting a blended delivery of the Master’s program, I came to Ireland. However, with the increase in cases, the teaching has moved completely online for this semester and we are losing out on the college experience. Understanding the gravity of the situation when we as students are willing to compromise on all these things it is justifiable that the colleges give us a reduction in our fees.
Sajal Mudgal, Dublin 16
I have raised this issue with my college mates and we have huge numbers, I really want support from media, college and the government to lead this change. I have been working from weeks and was able to manage 480 students to join hands with me and fight for this movement. We really need help in refund of our fees, as we are international students who have taken the risk to travel in a difficult situation, we are paying a lot of money in terms of rent, college fee and other living expenses. In return we are only getting online classes which more or less is very stressful, none of our classes are offline. We have worked very hard and paid our hard earned to be here and the rage is very high because college gave us fake promises and forced us to be here by saying that we are going to have a blended course and attending the orientation in person is mandatory.
I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree at UCD. UCD sent out letters to the students stating attendance is compulsory. They promised us that 70% classes will be face to face. I haven’t even visited my University yet. Most of the international students have travelled during this pandemic and have risked their health just because classes were going to be held offline. I would have taken classes from my home country if they were to be conducted online. We aren’t getting the exposure we were promised. The lecturers just record sessions and put them up. There has been no interaction with some of the lecturers. Paying hefty fees for online classes is not at all justified. Universities have made education a business and they don’t really care about students future. UCD should stop over promising and under delivering.
Abhishek Jay Kumar, Dublin
As an international student at UCD who landed in Dublin last month, I was hopeful about the restart period here. There were provisions mentioned for at least 60% on-campus learning before we arrived and we were okay to accept the regular costs then. It was our decision. However, now that we are here, the uni has decided to take the whole of first semester online without reducing any fee or accommodation costs. There are no guarantees for the second trimester being offline as well. This is just plain unfair. That is not what we signed up for.
Sri Karthik Senegavaram
I was in the republic of Ireland in the month of January to pursue my masters from Griffith College .The first semester of my college went on online just sitting in front of a laptop screen and listening to lectures , which was similar to watching YouTube videos for free of cost. Have been told the college would reopen atl east for the 2nd semester but recently got to know that the whole semester would be online . Hoping the republic of Ireland would help in anyway so that we could go back to the school or get our money back which we paid for going to college .
Shiva Subramanyam Thaye Sathyanarayan, Dublin
I’m a master’s student in UCD Michael Smurfit. My course fees is around €19,900. And I was promised that it will be a blended mode of teaching, which is why I travelled from India. So, my cost of living in Dublin has been way higher than India. Away from friends and family but the course is online. It’s a little disheartening and this could lead to depression among many students. As we have hefty loans to clear up and no part-time jobs as well. Considering all these, if universities can reduce 20-30% of the fees, we will be grateful forever.
I am an international Student in UCD Smurfit Business School. For me without a part-time Job, which is difficult to get because lockdown being imposed. It is expensive to support my living and Tuition fee. So, help is which ever way will appreciate. “It is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice”
Raisa Mukherjee, Dublin
We were called stating that offline classes will take place. However, even when the schools were open in Ireland, our college decided to close down and go online. Spending so much here in rent and other expenses and on top huge college fees is becoming a burden day by day. Hence, need reduction.
Yuteng LI, Dublin
I am an international student who is coming to ireland this year for my master’s degree in UCD. I fell in love with everything here and I think I will spend the rest of my life recalling my experience here. However, the future is getting dark now because of the following Level 5 restrictions on students. I won’t be able to have face to face classes with my classmates, some of whom could be my friends and I can’t do any activities in the main UCD campus. My parents spent almost all their savings to support my dream and now everything seems to be disappointing. It cost me three times higher than the normal price to get a flight ticket and incredibly high rents to live in Dublin. So, I do hope that there will be a fee reduction, since we never know how long does this situation is going to last.
UCD promised to have a blended mode of learning this semester and convinced that 60 - 80 % would be face to face for taught master’s classes. I was planning to defer to next year however this made me reconsider. UCD has been very vague and have not been transparent on their plans. It could have been better if they had informed that the first semester would be online. I am now in Dublin, spending on my rent and living expenses to attend classes via my laptop. I believe the universities should refund students as most of the facilities are either not available or have to be used under restrictions. Online classes are not the same as face to face, it does not provide the same facilities we were promised initially. We should be refunded.
I have been paying my rent and all the expenses and not even getting any proper experience of college life. I believe we should get a refund for sure.
Mahdi Dibaiee, Dublin
Yes! I’m an international student and I’m paying a fortune for university but I’m not getting the experience I have been told to expect at all! Not the class and the learning experience neither the facilities are not the same and are only partial or not available at all! I’m thinking of dropping and doing it later after a few years when Corona is no longer an issue or at least the price is lower.
Amruta Thosar, Dublin
I definitely think we students deserve a refund. I am an international student from India. I was told by my University, UCD, that we would be having a blend of face to face and online classes. I had earlier deferred my admission thinking it would be online. But UCD sent out emails saying that it would be a blend, I resumed my application and spent a lot of money thinking it would be a great experience. But none of it is true. I am paying money for the tuition and rent while having to sit at home for online classes. I would request the authorities to do something about it. A good reduction is fees is definitely rerecommended.
Was promised by UCD that we will have a blended approach for this programme. After coming here, have been in lockdown and been attending the classes online. It only makes sense for the fee to be reduced or weekly compensation be provided.
Being an international student it’s hard to study with these restrictions. If the classes are online, it should’ve been stated earlier. The living expenses are extremely high in Dublin, there are no part time jobs available and the college is online which makes it even worse. Our whole classroom experience is ruined. Moreover we’re paying 20k euros and that for studying online? It’s not justified at all.
I came to Dublin in August because the school told me in their communication emails that there will be classes on campus at UCD. However, the week before the term started (the Friday), I received an email saying that all classes moved online.