Uniform policy on student accommodation refunds needed
After NUI Galway committed to refunding student accommodation fees to students who no longer wish to take up places in on-campus housing, Labour Higher Education spokesperson Annie Hoey said:
“Students face a difficult choice as they return to college and start new courses. There is grave uncertainty about the level of restrictions that may be in place over the coming months, and how lectures and tutorials will operate.
“Many courses have already moved all teaching online and Dublin third level institutions have already limited access for students and curtailed activity on campus with most lectures and teaching taking place online wherever possible.
“Across the country, students are making decisions on their accommodation and trying to balance that with public health concerns, and how their timetables are structured with students in some cases only required to be on campus for a short period of time in any given week or month.
“NUI Galway has confirmed that any student registered to stay in university owned accommodation will be entitled to a refund if they decide not to go ahead with their booking due to less time on campus than originally planned and while I welcome that commitment, I want the government to ensure that the same policy is applied by all other third level institutions, and put in place supports for students in private sector accommodation.
“Given that NUI Galway have reversed their previous position of not refunding students their accommodation costs, it is obvious that other institutions can follow suit but there should be a uniform approach this. If one institution can now offer refunds, then all institutions should adopt the same approach.
“The Minister needs to take the lead on this and offer necessary guidance to ensure a uniform approach is taken by all higher education institutes. While we understand the situation is fluid and that restrictions may go up and down in certain areas students who had booked on campus accommodation should not be needlessly out of pocket to the tune of several thousand euro due to no fault of their own.