It’s ‘Reading Week’ – but, unlike students with looming deadlines, news never sleeps. Here’s a roundup of the best stories you might have missed this week.

Medicine Students to Withhold Tuition Fees in Protest of Fee-Increases

In news shocking to absolutely no one, UCD has rejected calls from Graduate Medical students to reduce tuition fees, prompting a majority vote in favour of withholding the payment of fees this week. Recent increases in Graduate entry medicine fees, which currently stand at €16,290 for Irish students and €55,140 for non-EU students, were reportedly taken without consultation. Students have been told by UCD that no reduction would take place as they have already had to “budget” for increased expenses. Such foresight and concrete planning by UCD has hardly been seen since students were told they could expect between 40-60% of on-campus learning this trimester.

UCD Retains Title of Ireland’s Top University

Well, it’s that time of year again – the time when Irish universities are duly granted their self-worth for another year. UCD has been bestowed the highest level of vanity after being named the best university in Ireland for the second consecutive year. The U.S News and World Report’s Best Global Universities Ranking list has placed UCD ahead of Trinity College Dublin in the rankings once again, placing them 97th in the European rankings and 226th globally. UCD has improved year-on-year in the rankings, having previously placed 227th in the world in 2019 and 231st in 2018, ensuring this hubris-trip will undoubtedly sustain them until the next best-in-class competition rolls around.

Third Level Promises A-Plenty in Harris’ Maiden Policy Speech

Last week, Minister Simon Harris, already sinking under the weight of department titles to his name, attempted to throw some of his prospective ministerial work overboard by announcing his support for greater autonomy for universities. In his maiden policy speech, Captain Harris announced his intention to ‘achieve clarity’ between the roles of the Department and its agencies, as presumably almost 5 months in post has not been enough for him to be able figure out which one is which. Speaking at the Irish Universities Association (IUA), Minister Harris promised to “unlock Ireland’s potential” through funding micro-credentials and short courses, which will likely still last longer than the current government’s capacity to stay afloat.

The Lighter Side: Government to Subsidise Fees for 14,000 New Higher Education Places

Amid the unemployment and uncertainty resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic, the government this week announced its latest plans to get the country back on its feet. Minister Simon Harris has announced a new initiative seeking to provide over €30 million in free/subsidised places to higher education institutes to aid people to return to work, further their skills and build economic confidence. Under the ‘Job Stimulus Package’, funding for 11,597 places on short, modular courses will be made available to those returning to or already in employment, including recent graduates.

Of course many will be wondering if this move will inspire UCD to follow a similar track and reduce tuition fees. Fear not, however, the Ghost of Christmas Future has not yet darkened the door of House Deeks just yet…

Gemma Farrell – Assistant News Editor