Third-level students who have paid for accommodation up-front should “absolutely” be refunded, says Fianna Fail TD and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins.

hird-level institutions were originally supposed to be offering a ‘blended’ experience to students with some classes taking place online and others on-campus. Thus, many students have moved to university, however, with new Level 3 restrictions it is unlikely they will be attending lectures in person.

“The vast majority of third-level education is now online and remotely, barring practicals which have to be done on-site or on campus,” Mr Collins said on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

“They should absolutely be refunded. Anyone who paid for student accommodation in full and upfront of course they should be fully refunded.

“I would be calling on the third-level sector who have taken money off students to provide accommodation and on the private sector – landlords who provide to students- they should be refunding anyone who has paid upfront, absolutely.”

However, Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy said that although she agrees with this she doesn’t know how realistic it is.

“I don’t know how realistic what Niall is saying is in that context,” she said.

“Also with regards to online learning, we can’t put all students in one bracket. There is a lot of students who can’t do online because they don’t have a good enough speed of broadband.

“So, I don’t think it’s as straightforward as it’s being presented.”

Mr Collins also stated that despite speculation schools will not be closing for a longer mid-term break, mirroring what Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced today.

“The schools remaining open is a huge priority for this government,” he said.

“There is absolutely no plan to close the schools beyond the traditional one week planned mid-term break at Halloween.”

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly has said that staff needs to be considered when talking about closing schools.

“Schools are places of learning but they are also workplaces. I think there needs to be more engagement with staff in schools to make sure all the safety measures are in place,” she said.

“I think it’s not helpful that the Tánaiste is flying kites in relation to a circuit break or a level 5 because we know at a level 5 that thats when they will contemplate closing schools.”

Online Editors