The National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) has announced that it will offer refunds to students who have booked on-campus accommodation, in light of restrictions to on-campus learning caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Confirming via a tweet, NUIG Accommodation said: “[A]ny student who is registered to stay in University owned student accommodation will be entitled to a refund” should they decide to cancel their accommodation.

This announcement comes off the back of safety measures implemented across the university system in compliance with the new Enhanced Public Health Protection Measures for Higher Education guidelines published by the Higher Education Institutions sector of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on the 25th of this month.

As a result of its publication, NUIG alongside the majority of third-level Institutions, including University College Dublin (UCD) have restricted on-campus activity, with only “essential” activities going ahead such as research and lab-based classes.

Unlike NUIG, UCD has yet to implement any policy in relation to cancellations and refunds beyond its pre-Covid-19 policy. UCD has said it is “committed to looking after the health, well-being and academic progress of [its] students,” however, it has not specifically addressed the possibility of refunds for students who have booked on-campus accommodation and are now faced with limited on-campus activity.

Recently, UCD’s On-Campus Accommodation has come under scrutiny regarding its cost to students amid the pandemic. In an investigation by The College Tribune, UCD residences were found to cost significantly more than that of the University of Limerick’s (UL), which recently implemented an ‘Airbnb’ style system. UL charges students a flat fee of €250 a week (with facilities) which enables students to live on campus for a week at a time, on a three to four-week rotation. In comparison, one trimester of accommodation in a UCD Residence works out at between €271.67 to €399.07 per week.

In addition, earlier this month, third-level Institutions across Ireland were subject to criticism following an announcement permitting institutions to charge students full registration fees in 2020/21, despite the ongoing disruption due to the pandemic. The decision by UCD to charge students €3,000 or more for ‘blended learning’ provoked criticism from UCD Student’s Union (UCDSU) President, Conor Anderson, and Welfare Officer, Ruairí Power.

Cían Donohoe – Reporter