As I sat in the newly arranged clubhouse student bar in UCD, over what must be called a substantial meal, and a pint of cheap lager, I reminisced about how nice it was to be back on campus, but couldn’t shake the feeling of being out of place. Maybe it was because we were the only ones there or simply because we yearned for a time pre COVID. The last time I’d seen friends from college was March 13th, the Friday before spring break. The time spent in the interim was mostly spent with my family or doing Zoom quizzes. Needless to say, everyone was in the same boat, the only thing getting us through was “by September everything will have cleared up.” In hindsight we were very wrong and overly optimistic. Students from around the country and across most of the world were presented with the bleak reality of online lectures for Semester One at least. Certainly, in the case of my university, there was no clear plan from the beginning, from either the faculty of the Student Union.
In their defense there is no way predict the future, however planning for the semester ahead could have been communicated, in a clearer fashion. Now students face paying full fees for an online course, some have already moved into accommodation to find out the have no in person lectures between now and Christmas, first years starting university have found they have no freshers week and societies are struggling to host events both online and in person. Yet despite calls for the Student Union to appeal to the university and the Minister of Higher Education, the same students have been left in the dark once again. To say this is issue is limited to one university in Ireland, let alone the rest of the world, would be a vast understatement. This is an issue that affects countless of universities and students globally.
The issue with being charged full fees for this semester is that one is not just paying for their lectures. They are paying for the use of the student centre, they are paying for the use of the library, they are paying so they can attend society events, etc. With the majority of these limited or not in use due to COVID19 restrictions, a reduction in fees is surely justified. It doesn’t hep that the Department of Education have said that it is up to the University to charge students full fees or not. Most students rely on their own income to fund their education. However, it is these same students who have been furloughed, laid off or had hours reduced at work due to COVID.
There’s no denying the year ahead will be very difficult for both students and the university. Although a sense of normality is longed for, keeping everyone safe is the utmost priority. However, safety shouldn’t have to come at a price.
Although this piece is a broad overview of the many struggle’s students are facing, we still want to hear what you have to say and you can have your voice listened to here: https://www.frontier-current-affairs.com/letters-to-the-editor