University College Dublin (UCD) students are not happy that the university has made €11 million in 2020, which has seen students struggle to afford their normal fees for a vastly reduced product. This is in spite of the fact that the university accepted a higher number of students in 2020 than any other year.

The Times Ireland reported on Thursday that ‘University College Dublin’s income from fees has increased by €11 million this year’. UCD Students’ Union (UCD SU) President, Conor Anderson suggested that this shows the university’s attitude towards the financial hardships of its students.

“We are deeply angered by the recent reports of UCD making €11 million more in student fees this year than last,” Anderson said in a statement from the UCD SU. “They have made money off students during Covid-19, while the call for reasonable compensation due to the disruption caused by the pandemic has been ignored every time student representatives have raised it.”

Earlier in November, students were told by the government to expect to receive €250, as compensation for the reduction in quality and effectiveness of online teaching during COVID-19. This money will come from the government’s budget, meaning that UCD will not have to spend a cent.

“The unspoken assumption has been that the University is struggling financially, just as so many students are,” Anderson added. “We can now confidently say that is not the case: we are struggling, but they are not. Yet again, it is the students who are called on to foot the bill, whether that means financing luxury accommodation affordable to only the most well-off or carrying the University through a global pandemic on our backs. This pattern is untenable, and it is incompatible with a society that values a publicly funded and accessible higher education sector.”

It was also announced recently that UCD medical student fees will increase by €1,000 for the next academic year. Anderson has suggested that medical students deserve the support of the university more than others, as they have been assisting in the fight against the coronavirus throughout the year.

“Some of the hardest-hit are medical students, who also face year-on-year fee increases,” Anderson said. “These students have asked UCD to show where this extra money is going, but no explanation has been provided. Medical students are telling us that as fees are increasing, so are student numbers, but funding for supports remains static. Med students simply asked for a halt to these unjustified increases. When our student doctors are working on the frontlines for little or no pay during a pandemic, the least we can do is freeze the cost of their course. It is putting them under significant undue stress.”

Anderson said that it is ‘unfair’ for UCD to have made such a large amount this year while so many of their students are suffering. “It is obviously unfair for us to tighten our belts and eat the cost of these high fees, while the University takes our money to pad their reserves,” he said. “Many students are unable to get jobs, many have seen our grades fall due to stress and difficulty – we cannot be expected to bail-out UCD by paying higher fees this year. Where’s our bail-out? It’s our money!”

Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor