STUDENTS who have graduated from the University of Limerick without paying registration fees are not receiving parchments or transcripts of their exam results, it has emerged.
It means the graduates who still owe the university money have no way of proving to prospective employers that they achieved the results described on their CV.
University president Professor Don Barry confirmed on Monday that UL had hired a debt collection agency to recover outstanding monies from graduates. But he stressed that no students who were currently enrolled were being pursued in this fashion.
It is understood that most of the people in the crosshairs of the debt collectors for unpaid registration fees are those who dropped out of university without taking their final exams. But they also include a number of graduates.
Prof Barry and UL were unable to confirm just how many people were being pursued or how much money the university is owed. Annual registration fees for third level courses are set to increase to €2500 in September.
“It is really very much a last resort for us and we try our level best to facilitate students for as long as possible,” Prof Barry told the Limerick Leader.
“We are kind of caught between a rock and a hard place in the sense that we have an obligation to collect this charge and the government deducts it from our grants. It is only fair that we treat all our students the same,” Prof Barry said.
Cuts in state funding and the growth in numbers enrolling at third level have heaped pressure on the finances at colleges and universities around the country.
It is unknown how much the University of Limerick has spent in hiring the debt collection agency but UCD - Ireland’s biggest university - is in the process of awarding a contract worth in excess of €200,000 a year to collect debts from its students, including those currently enrolled, it is understood.