College students have called for fees to be cut “immediately” if ‘blended’ learning from home is to continue.
The Government sparked fury when it confirmed that colleges could still charge the full €3,000 student contribution even if access to on-campus services are curtailed.
Students argue that even saving on travel expenses, they could still be paying high rents in addition to laptops, software and WiFi if they can’t access IT equipment on campus.
One student Faye tweeted: “What about all the students who will have to buy new computers to do college work on?
“They might have to buy a desk or start paying a WiFi bill. In my digs in first year I didn’t have WiFi for three months and depended on doing assignments on college computers or using college WiFi.
“I also didn’t have a laptop for pretty much the entire first semester this year, and I certainly didn’t have enough expendable income to just go and get one.”
People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett TD said financial support for those learning from home is “the least” the government could do, and that he will continue to raise the issue in the Dail.
He told Dublin Gazette: “I think it’s scandalous that the fees won’t be reduced. Most of these students and their families have been impacted by Covid-19, whether they’ve lost jobs or have had their income reduced.
“I think at the very least, some financial support should be provided to students who will have to invest in technology.”
A Department of Further and Higher Education spokesperson said: “The cost of education in the Covid world has increased, not decreased.
“The student contribution fee is currently set at €3,000 per annum and can be paid in instalments. The Minister for Further and Higher Education has acknowledged the cost involved and that this can be considered over the lifetime of the Government.
“The State pays the contribution in full or part for an estimated 44 per cent of all students.
“Minister [Simon] Harris is conscious of the impact of the pandemic has had on students and has provided additional student assistance including a doubling of the Student Assistance Fund and a €15 m technology fund.”