USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick has bemoaned the uncertainty around the return to college and has urged institutions to inform their students on what's anticipated for the upcoming year.
Last night, Fitzpatrick spoke on RTE News regarding the effect that the uncertainty has had on students, particularly with regard to their mental health.
Once again, I had to make public calls on @rtenews for clarity ahead of the new academic year. It is vitally unfair on students and their families.
We are also calling for emergency measures for student renters if a second wave or lockdown comes into affect.
More below ??? https://t.co/9iATBZogvH
— Lorna Fitzpatrick #RipOffNUIG (@Lornafitz3) August 26, 2020
USI head Fitzpatrick believes that the lack of information from colleges is leading to a confusion from students and parents alike.
"We have so many students getting in touch, and parents of new students, asking us if they should sign a lease. If the student is only going to be on campus for one week a month, or one day a week, is it in their best interest to sign a full-term lease?
"Some have more information than others, but at this stage, it is the end of August and for people not to have any sort of clarity on the new academic year leaves them in a very difficult situation."
These calls for action, coupled with the nature of 'blended' learning which will be utilised this academic year has lead to Fitzpatrick calling for a reduction of fees.
"The Government really needs to show leadership here - we've been calling for a minimum €500 in the student contribution charge, and to have a plan to phase that out over a number of years.
"Our system was underfunded to begin with... with COVID, it's been reported there could be an up to €500 million deficit.
"The situation up until now proved to be risky in terms of a financial strategy.
"There needs to be a broader conversation about the overall funding for higher education, but in the meantime an immediate €500 reduction for students and their families would be very helpful."