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Complaint upheld after UCD student asked to pay almost €500 more in fees than advertised

Outdated fee information had been listed on UCD’s School of Medicine website.

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has upheld a complaint made against University College Dublin (UCD) over the cost of a masters course.

Details on the UCD School of Medicine website for a two-year part-time masters course in Clinical and Translational Research outlined that year one and year two of the course both cost €4,060 respectively.

However, the person who complained said that it came to the attention of both her classmates and herself that when signing up to the second year of the course, through the internal student website, that the fees had increased to €4,475 without any prior notice.

The complainant said that the increase in fees was so significant that it was a possibility that some students would be unable to complete their masters course.

In a response to the complaint, UCD said that the fees information on the website was only intended as a guideline.

The university said the information in relation to fees was also set out on the UCD Fees website to which students were also directed.

It said this website “clearly states that fees can be subject to change from one year to the next”.

UCD confirmed that €4,060 was the correct EU fee for students who registered in year one and year two in 2016/2017 and €4,475 was the correct EU fee for students who registered in year one and year two in 2017/2018.

It said the higher rate of €4,475 had been correctly applied to the complainant’s case.

The ASAI noted:

The university believed that the information held on the School of Medicine website was accurate at the time of publication and there had been no intention to mislead students in relation to possible fee increases from one year to the next.
It accepted, however, that information provided on its website may have been misinterpreted.

As a “gesture of goodwill”, the university agreed to charge the lower 2016/2017 fee rather than the higher charge.

In addition, UCD said it had removed all fee-related information from the School of Medicine website and promotional material, and now referred students to the UCD Fees website, in order to avoid any future misunderstandings.

While the ASAI noted that UCD had decided to charge the lower advertised fee, it noted that the authority’s guidelines required that if a price was stated in a marketing communication, it should relate to the product depicted or specified.

Read: Complaint about ‘misleading’ online ad for Cork IVF clinic upheld

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