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Some students with reduced campus hours backtrack on decision to live away from home

One NUIG student is trying to leave his accommodation partly due to rising cases in Galway.

Image: Shutterstock/Narin Nonthamand

STUDENTS HAVE BEEN requesting refunds for accommodation after their short time in college due to a lack of on-campus hours. 

The NUI Galway Students’ Union welfare and equality officer, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, said the union is “anticipating” further queries about getting refunds for student accommodation due to classes being held mostly online. 

“I have had a few queries about getting refunds from Cúirt na Coiribe and Corrib Village [student accommodation complexes in Galway],” she said. 

She said there is “rightfully” anger from students and parents who paid rent for this year ahead of the announcement by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris last Friday.

The minister said that all higher education institutions have been asked to deliver lectures remotely where possible for the next two weeks. 

Students have been asked to visit campus for classes only when they cannot be done online. This will include practicals and labs. 

In Dublin under Level 3 restrictions, third-level institutions are asked to limit congregation as much as possible. 

‘Huge disappointment’

Tom Forde, a first year politics, economics and law student in NUIG, yesterday decided to try and cancel his lease at a student accommodation facility in Galway. 

“In light of what happened on Friday I didn’t expect much from this week, and with what happened in Spanish Arch [on Monday] night and cases rising, I decided I was just going to try and leave,” he said.

He has submitted a refund request from his accommodation. TheJournal.ie has contacted the complex to confirm whether they are refunding students at this time. 

Forde moved from his home in Sligo to Galway last Tuesday and described Friday’s announcement from Minister Harris as a “huge disappointment”.  

The student said he is aware of others in a similar situation with their college accommodation. 

“There is a lot of people pulling back now, especially with on-campus accommodation giving refunds a lot of people are heading home now,” said Forde. 

Corrib Village accommodation in NUI Galway is issuing refunds to people who do not proceed with their booking due to having less time on campus than anticipated.  

“I assumed that despite on-campus time being pretty low, I would still have some. And then Friday happened,” Forde said. 

The president of the Union of Students in Ireland, Lorna Fitzpatrick, said recently that students who have signed contracts and leases need support. 

“If there is a delay in on-campus learning, those who have agreed contracts and leases must be supported to delay the start dates of those leases or to be refunded for rooms that are no longer needed,” she said.

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“Institutions and accommodation providers must provide flexible provisions for students. It is not good enough to require students to enter standard agreements – this is not a standard year.” 

Galway gatherings 

On Monday night, photos and videos shared on social media showed a large number of people near the Spanish Arch, with groups also shown on Shop Street

Yesterday representatives from Galway City Council, gardaí, the HSE, third-level institutions and student unions held an emergency virtual meeting to discuss the scenes. 

Forde said the gatherings may be due in part to a lack of physical events on campus. 

“I think that fuelled a lot of [Monday] night, because of the lack of a social outlet on campus,” the student said.

“Just because college is [now online], doesn’t mean we should ignore the pandemic.”

Róisín Nic Lochlainn from the NUIG Students’ Union said the incident was inevitable. 

“The university, the government, the mayor – they have had six months to plan for things like this to happen, why only now when something has happened are they asking for an emergency meeting?” Nic Lochlainn said. 

The unfortunate reality is that when there are no social spaces and no hours on campus, this is going to happen. 

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