Students demand refund from University of Limerick over 'cancelled' international workshop

An aerial shot of the UL campus, looking out towards its 200 acres in Clare

UL is being urged to refund postgraduate students who were unable to travel for an international workshop

THE University of Limerick is being urged to reimburse postgraduate students who were unable to attend an international workshop last year because of Covid-19.

The UL Postgraduate Student's Union says it has been lobbying UL for eight months but that it has refused to refund the monies - believed to be in the region of €1,500 for each student.

A number of postgraduate students have contacted the Limerick Leader in recent days and the ULPSU says it has decided to highlight the matter publicly because of the impasse.

"As the students were not able to embark on these trips, efforts were made to contact the university to reimburse the students for the costs. Incessant communications were made towards the President of UL, UL Provost, the Course Director, the former Dean of the concerned Faculty, the Interim Dean and the Fees Office," read a statement from Rania Shadeed, Vice President & Student Voice Representative.

"Despite the academic, financial, social and psychological repercussions of the pandemic on the students, University of Limerick’s Postgraduate Students’ Union and the aggrieved students were met with disregard, nonchalance and a lack of prioritisation for their demands," she added.

In response to a query from the Limerick Leader, a spokesperson from UL referred to correspondence sent to students from Finbarr Murphy, interim Executive Dean at the Kemmy Busines School.

In the letter, Mr Murphy states:  "It has been a challenging time to constantly adjust to changing public health directives, while trying to meet students’ educational needs. The inability to undertake an international trip is a great disappointment coming at the end of two difficult online semesters".

He said the changes in university teaching delivery over the past 14 months has had a significant impact on the costs and benefits of higher and adult education.

Specifically addressing the cancelled international trip the letter states: "The cost of the virtual workshop this year was significant and the time and effort put into the delivery of that workshop was equivalent or greater to the organisational effort for an international trip. For the Kemmy Business School, our key task was to ensure that students achieved the learning outcomes as per our mandate from Higher Education Authority and audited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. We are confident that these outcomes were achieved."

The details letter adds. "The cost of delivery between the international trip and virtual workshop or other alternatives cannot be distinguished. While it is true to say that some operational costs such as heat, light, etc. have decreased other costs have increased. These increased costs include considerable human and technological resources into pivoting to online delivery at very short notice. These costs are spread across the campus and it is not possible to allocate them to particular programmes."

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