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WIT president defends decision to charge full student fees as almost all classes move online

All classes and lectures in the upcoming academic year will be held online.

Image: Shutterstock/wutzkohphoto

THE PRESIDENT OF the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) said students will be asked to pay full fees for this academic year as all lectures and tutorials move online. 

Students and staff were informed last week of the blended learning approach for the upcoming academic year. 

Some activities such as labs and workshops will be held on campus with social distancing measures in place, but most all lectures and tutorials will be delivered online. 

Education Minister Norma Foley recently said third-level education facilities can charge full fees to students even with severely restricted access to campus. 

Speaking to RTÉ radio’s News At One, WIT president Willie Donnelly said the college’s decision was made partly due to the high number of Covid-19 clusters in private households. 

“Many students rent houses, share houses together. We felt that the risk to the students and to our own staff and the community was too much, and therefore we had to move to a blended learning environment,” he said.   

Donnelly said the student fees will remain the same “because unfortunately that’s part of our income and we still have the same costs in terms of staff, in terms of the overhead of running the institute”. 

Earlier today, the Higher Education Minister Simon Harris repeated his hope that the student contribution fee might be reduced, but defended the fact that fees would remain the same this year.

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“The cost of education has actually risen, so can you can imagine it’s costing more to provide college education in a Covid environment. Smaller classes, longer opening hours, use of technology,” he said.

He also said that a third of people going to college will be covered by the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant and won’t have to pay fees.  

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