To: The Department for the Economy
Refund Student Fees 2020/21
Offer a full refund of fees for the 2020/21 academic year, in acknowledgement of the unique difficulties faced by students due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is this important?
Across Ireland students are struggling to adapt to online learning. Even those with decent broadband and working computers are reporting difficulty keeping up and paying attention. Pre-recorded lectures with little interaction leave lecturers seeming even less approachable than before, courses which previously had time allocated to practical sessions now have significantly less or none at all. All of this, on top of the loneliness students are facing as they remain isolated from their peers, results in a massive decline in the quality of our education.
We are left feeling like we are paying for the opportunity to teach ourselves. This is unacceptable. All this when the North of Ireland ranks within the top 10 of countries with highest student fees in Europe.
Stormont have taken no measures to aid the situation, instead opting to leave it up to the discretion of the institution on whether or not students receive any aid at all. Students who paid for accommodation only to learn that all their classes would be online deserve better. Students who are teaching themselves and feel as if they’re attending “YouTube University” deserve better. Students without strong broadband who are forced to rely on mobile data deserve better. Many of the facilities that our fees are supposed to be paying for are closed, while we still pay the same amount as last year.
We demand a full refund of fees this year, and that the Department for the Economy begin to seriously consider the abolition of tuition fees. Education is a human right, and it’s high time it be treated as such.
After signing this petition please share your online learning story with #WhatAmIPayingFor, and don’t forget to tag Diane Dodds, Arlene Foster, Michelle O’Neill, the Department for the Economy and your local MLAs and/or MPs!
After you've done that, we encourage you to join catuireland.org, a tenant & community action union that's taking on landlords who are taking the piss.
Finally, we're organising an open Zoom meeting to discuss further campaigns, actions and occupations that can take place to fight for our fees. Join us on the 3rd of December at 6 pm here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUvceCorz4rGdcVB0A01oKRAGT6wtOte2Hj